Former Celgene Chairman and CEO Bob Hugin launched his campaign to win a U.S. Senate seat Wednesday morning in Springfield.
And the Republican millionaire businessman showed right from the start that he’s able to play in politics, as he attacked the record and character of the man he hopes to defeat: sitting Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat.
“This campaign is going to be a contrast, a stark contrast in candidates,” Hugin said. “I have to tell you I am offended by Sen. Menendez’s actions. He’s violated the public trust and, at the same time, he’s failed the people of New Jersey.”
Menendez had federal corruption charges against him dropped earlier this year, a few months after an initial trial on the charges resulted in a hung jury.
“New Jersey deserves better,” Hugin said. “I’m embarrassed about how people think about New Jersey based on Sen. Menendez’s behavior.
“He must be and he will be held accountable by the voters this November.”
Hugin faces an uphill battle. New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Clifford Case won the last of his four terms in 1972.
In addition, Hugin has been a supporter of both former Gov. Chris Christie and President Donald Trump, two politicians with low approval ratings in the state.
Hugin said he will be an independent voice, one just as willing to work with Republicans as Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.
“If Gov. Murphy or Sen. Booker have a good idea that makes sense in New Jersey, I will stand up and support them,” Hugin said. “If President Trump or any other Republican has an idea that’s bad for New Jersey, I will forcefully stand up and disagree with them.”
While Hugin will put a lot of his own money into the race, he is expected to fundraise. He also is hopeful of getting national attention from the media and support from national donors.
Hugin said New Jersey needs a new voice in Washington.
“We will make the case loud and clear that New Jersey deserves better from our next senator,” he said. “New Jersey deserves a senator as good as its people, not one working to stay one step ahead of the law.”