Five out of seven New Jerseyans who have an opinion about Robert Menendez believe that the Democratic senator does not deserve to be re-elected, should he even be on the ballot next year.
Menendez is standing trial for bribery in a case involving Florida eye surgeon Salomon Melgen. Federal prosecutors allege that Menendez accepted cash payments, political donations, expensive airplane rides and vacations from Melgen in exchange for a variety of favors, including visas for girlfriends of the disgraced Florida-based physician and help in a medical fraud investigation.
The trial has clearly tarnished Menendez’s image.
According to a poll released by Quinnipiac University on Thursday, 50 percent of New Jersey voters oppose a Menendez re-election while only 20 percent support him. Thirty percent of poll respondents were undecided.
Menendez’s term expires next year. Should he be convicted of bribery, Menendez would not have to immediately resign from office, though he is already under heavy pressure to do so. Republicans have started mounting a campaign to force him to resign. If Menendez decided to resign, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, would have the authority to pick the replacement.
Republicans would welcome that development as it would provide an extra vote in the upper chamber, where President Trump needs all the help he can get to push through his agenda.
Menendez has remained defiant during the trial, insisting that he is innocent and refusing to address the possibility of his resignation. But as it stands now, his constituents clearly want him gone by next year.
Only 12 percent of Republicans believe Menendez deserves re-election while 61 percent oppose the idea. Twenty-nine percent of Democrats support Menendez while 41 percent oppose. He is backed by 19 percent of Independents and opposed by exactly 50 percent, according to the Quinnipiac survey.
Maurice Carroll, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll, noted that the prominence of the bribery trial has likely influenced the latest poll results.
“This survey was conducted as federal prosecutors opened their case against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez – perhaps poisoning the landscape. If Sen. Menendez is convicted, he obviously won’t be in the running next year. If he is acquitted, who knows,” Carroll said in a statement.