The state's senior U.S. senator said he won't back down from fighting against President Donald Trump. Watch video
“Thank you, New Jersey!” Menendez told some 200 to 300 supporters at his victory party at a Hoboken hotel.
“I never back down from fighting,” he said. “Some say I’m persistent. I just say it’s the Jersey in me.”
The race was called for Menendez within an hour after polls in the state closed. But Menendez didn’t take the stage until about 10:30 p.m.
He blasted his opponent, who spent at least $36 million of his own personal fortune to try and oust Menendez, over the “false, salacious (and) negative adds” that ran on TV in the months leading up to the election.
“But what he failed to understand … is that this election was always about all of you,” Menendez told his supporters.
He never trailed in polls. But Menendez, who survived a trial on criminal corruption charges but was later rebuked by his colleagues, only led by single digits in early polls in Democratic-heavy New Jersey. The Cook Political Report, meanwhile, called the race a “tossup.” Later polls showed him pulling ahead.
Gov. Phil Murphy, who appeared alongside Menendez on the campaign trail in the lead-up to the election, was there to welcome Menendez to the stage.
“We the people have said we want Sen. Bob Menendez,” he declared, saying the re-election of him was a repudiation of Republican President Donald Trump.
“We the people have said we want Sen. Bob Menendez,” Murphy said. “We the people told Donald Trump that New Jersey would not be part of an agenda that disparages our communities.”
Murphy added: “His leadership and his determination have never been needed more.”
When news broke that Democratic Menendez handily won another term, as supporters listened to music that included the hit-song “Survivor,” there was a noteworthy supporter at his victory part: a woman who served as a juror during his criminal trial.
Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, of Hillside, made headlines last year after she accused federal prosecutors of “trying to throw a good man under the bus.” She was earlier dismissed from Menendez’s bribery case so she could keep a pre-arranged vacation. She said she would have voted to acquit him.
“He’s just so special to me because of what happened in that courtroom, and I just felt like I needed to be here to support him,” Arroyo-Maultsby said at the party Tuesday night.
“A lot of people were confused,” she said. “He’s really a good man. What they’re saying about him is not true.”
Menendez’s trial resulted in a hung jury, and federal prosecutors declined to retry him.
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