Menendez’s GOP Challenger Once Lobbied Against Allowing Women Into All-Male Princeton Dining Club

Robert Donachie | Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

The man challenging Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey once lobbied against allowing women into an all-male Princeton University dining club while he was the group’s president.

Republican Bob Hugin, a former Marine and business leader, is challenging Menendez for his Senate seat in November. Thus far, Hugin has steadily gained ground on Menendez, narrowing the career politician’s lead from double-digits down to just two percentage points as of this week. (RELATED: Menendez’ Challenger Looks Like He Could Win In November)

Hugin is charged with fighting against allowing women into an all-male dining club, known as the Tiger Inn, while he was president of the group in the 1970s. A female undergraduate student, Sally Frank, sued the club in 1979 after she was denied access to the group. The lawsuit dragged on until 1992, when the Tiger Inn, along with another club, paid legal penalties to the group that was representing Frank. The group now lets women join.

Hugin, then in his 30s, responded to the 1992 settlement, calling it “politically correct fascism.”

Princeton began enrolling female students in the fall of 1969.

The former Marine has since acknowledged his comments were not appropriate and apologized for them.

“Everyone evolves over time. I view many things differently today than I did 25 years ago,” Hugin said in a statement. “The Tiger Inn becoming co-ed was a very positive development for the organization and has strengthened it on every level. The decision, made by the undergraduate members, to admit women back in the early 90’s was without question the right thing to do. Personally, I wish I had taken a leadership role in making it happen sooner.”

“I am proud to say that my views on issues have evolved over the years. Forty-years ago, discussion about gay marriage was nearly non-existent and women being the breadwinners in their homes was a rarity. Today, thankfully, both of those things have changed, and America is a better place for it,” Hugin said, adding that he “couldn’t imagine” living in a world where his daughter did not have the same “opportunities as my sons.”

Until the recent development, Hugin appeared to be sailing through the election cycle, picking up ground on Menendez almost weekly.

Menendez, a two-term senator and former congressman, is only leading Hugin two percentage points, according to a Gravis Marketing poll released Monday evening. That is, notably, down two percentage points from May, when a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll pegged Menendez lead at only four percentage points. (RELATED: Florida Doctor Found Guilty Of 67 Counts Of Fraud)

The results are also markedly down from April, when Monmouth University pegged Menendez with a strong 21 percentage point lead. Quinnipiac had Menendez up 17 points in March.

Gravis’ poll has a notably small sample size of 563 and a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. The marketing agency polled “likely voters” from July 6 to July 10 over the phone, email and other methods.

The other polls have, within reason, similar sample sizes and margins of error. Fairleigh Dickinson’s poll has a margin of error or plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and a sample size of 856. Monmouth University’s poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for voters and a sample size of 632. Quinnipiac has the largest sample size — 1,052 — and a margin of error 4.2 percentage points.

RealClearPolitics has the state leaning only “likely Democrat,” this election cycle, but Republicans, notably, rarely eclipse the 50 percent mark in statewide races. It isn’t clear whether or not Hugin will be able to garner that many votes, but it is clear that voters are becoming increasingly iffy about Menendez, a man who has been at the center of one of the biggest political scandals since the 2016 election. (RELATED: Reid Asked Obama To Help Menendez Donor)

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