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U.S. Representative Andy Kim

Kim commits to run for Menendez’s Senate seat

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) says he’ll follow through with his primary challenge to indicted Sen. Bob Menendez, even if the veteran New Jersey senator eventually steps down or other candidates enter the race.

Kim, who announced his intent to take on Menendez over the weekend, said his decision is one that “came from the heart” and he plans to keep running, even if the state of the race shifts.

“I’ve made my announcement that I’m not seeking reelection in the House, and [Menendez] has now twice said that he’s not going anywhere,” Kim told us in an interview. “I feel committed to do this and I’m going to see it through.”

There are now several potential candidates eyeing Kim’s open House seat.

Kim’s decision comes after Menendez was indicted on bribery and corruption charges on Friday. Menendez, who has been in the Senate since 2006, has since stepped aside from his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Menendez proclaimed that he would eventually be exonerated. The senator, though, didn’t directly address whether he’s going to seek reelection next year.

“I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” Menendez said.

The 69-year-old Menendez, his wife Nadine, and three other alleged co-conspirators will be arraigned in federal court in New York City on Wednesday.

Kim told us he didn’t tune into Menendez’s press conference, but denounced the senator’s refusal to step down. Kim, along with several other members of the New Jersey House delegation and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, have called on Menendez to resign. Just three Democratic senators — John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, Peter Welch of Vermont and Sherrod Brown of Ohio — have said so far that Menendez should resign.

“The senator’s immediate response was to just come back at us and then just say ‘I’m not going anywhere,’” the 41-year-old Kim said. “Honestly, it was that line that bothered me so much. It felt like he was thinking that he owns that seat.”

Kim also slammed Menendez for claiming he was being targeted because of his ethnicity. Menendez was once the highest ranking Latino in Congress and is the son of Cuban immigrants.

“I guess he doesn’t have a whole lot of material to push back on,” Kim said of Menendez. “The issues about race and accusations that he was targeted [because of race] are absolutely ridiculous.”

Kim noted that he is the son of Korean immigrants and the first Asian American from New Jersey to be elected to federal office. The former Rhodes Scholar and State Department, Pentagon and White House aide was first elected to the House in 2018.

Keep in mind, other New Jersey Democrats including Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Josh Gottheimer have also been floated as potential successors to Menendez. Those two have also been floated as future gubernatorial candidates in 2025.

Sherrill and Gottheimer have both called on Menendez to resign but haven’t indicated any plans related to their own political futures. Gottheimer is holding a fundraiser for Rep. Rob Menendez (D-N.J.), the senator’s son. The younger Menendez reaffirmed his intention to seek reelection despite his father’s indictment.

Mica Soellner

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