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November 06, 2018

Despite Trump's late endorsement of Bob Hugin, embattled U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez wins in New Jersey

Several media outlets including the AP called the race for the embattled senator, but Hugin has yet to concede

Around lunchtime on Election Day, the president of the United States weighed in – via Twitter – with an endorsement in New Jersey’s heated U.S. Senate race.

Republican candidate Bob Hugin, according to the “complete and total Endorsement” tweet, would be a "great senator." The news brought a two-word reply from embattled incumbent U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez's campaign Twitter account: "Thank you."

Flash forward to Tuesday night and it became clear that Menendez should have been so snarkily appreciative, as New Jersey voters decided to send him back to Washington, D.C. despite the stain of an alleged corruption scandal.

The polls weren't closed for an hour before NBC News, the New York Post and Huffington Post projected Menendez as the winner despite real-time vote counts having Hugin holding onto a narrow lead. Though the Associated Press called the race at 8:52 p.m., Hugin said he wasn't prepared to concede.

The race was poised to impact the partisan makeup of the 100-member legislative body, at a time when the House of Representatives seemed heading toward Democratic Party control.

For his part, Hugin – the wealthy, retired pharmaceutical company CEO – had distanced himself from Trump, refusing to tell Fox and Friends earlier this month if he wanted the president’s endorsement.

Menendez's re-election bid came after his federal corruption trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial in November 2017. Federal prosecutors opted not to retry him.

Menendez was elected to the Union City school board in 1974 at age 20 and then became Union City mayor in 1986. He was later elected to the state Assembly and state Senate.

In 1992, he won election to the U.S. House in the 13th Congressional District. In 2006, then-Gov. Jon Corzine appointed Menendez to fill the remainder of his unexpired term. He was elected to a full six-year term later that year and then re-elected in 2012. He is a graduate of St. Peter's University and Rutgers School of Law.

Though two Republicans had been appointed to continue another senator’s term (Nicholas Brady from April to December 1982 and Jeffrey Chiesa from June through October 2013), the last GOP candidate elected to office was Clifford P. Case. Case was elected in 1954 and won re-election in 1960 and 1966.

Also on the ballot with Menendez and Hugin were Murray Sabrin of the Libertarian Party, Madelyn R. Hoffman of the Green Party, Tricia Flanagan of the New Day NJ party, Kevin Kimple of the Make It Simple party, Natalie Lynn Rivera of the For the People party; and Hank Schroeder of the Economic Growth Party.

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