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NJ SEN: GOP Hopeful Says His Internal Polls Show Him Taking The Lead Over Menendez

If there’s one dark horse race to watch tomorrow night, it’s New Jersey’s Senate race. Yes, it’s a deep blue state. Yes, we’ve heard this before back in 2006 (sort of) when Republican Tom Kean, Jr. ran and lost against then-Rep. Bob Menendez. It was a bad year for Republicans. That midterm season was a killing field, and all Bob had to say was that he was going to D.C. to say “no” to George Bush. Flash forward to today, Bob Menendez’s popularity is in the toilet, Democratic enthusiasm is depressed, and all of this can be traced to his relationship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was recently convicted and sentenced to 17 years for health care fraud. Menendez was the center of a months-long corruption case, where he was accused of accepting lavish gifts from Melgen in exchange for using his office for political favors. The jury deadlocked on the case, and Menendez wasn't retried, though the Senate Ethics Committee ripped him a new one.

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Republican Bob Hugin has by many accounts, including Democratic insiders following this race, run an excellent campaign. The attack ads are pervasive—and they appear to be working. It’s a much closer race than what was originally projected. And now we have internal polls that show Hugin might have eked ahead hours before voters start heading to the polls (via Washington Free Beacon):

Hugin told the Washington Free Beacon at a get out the vote rally in Colts Neck, N.J., over the weekend that his latest internal polling shows he is up "a couple of points" over Menendez. He also said he started strong and plans on finishing strong.

When asked how he's feeling about the race, Hugin said, "I feel good," then he added, "but you can't take anything for granted." He had numerous rallies on his schedule throughout the state in the countdown to what he says will be a victory for him and the residents of New Jersey.

"We're a couple of days away from victory," Hugin told the crowed gathered at Saturday's rally. "The people of New Jersey deserve better because this guy has embarrassed us. Twenty-five years, and he's failed us ethically and failed the people of New Jersey."

[…]

"I am a leader and have been one my whole life," said Hugin. He told the crowd, "it will be about getting the vote out."

"Thank you for what you've done to get us here. Let's get this ball over the goal line. We're at the five-yard line, we're going to push it over," Hugin said, and the crowd cheered.

[…]

The message has resonated with voters at the rally who were interviewed by the Free Beacon.

Frank Goodline of Colts Neck, said he came to hear Hugin speak and is "really hopeful" he will represent New Jersey in D.C. "I like his demeanor. I'm resentful that the Democratic senators don't represent my values. Menendez and Booker do not represent most New Jerseyans," he said.

[…]

One couple at the rally were taking Bob Hugin signs and planned on working diligently to get Hugin elected. Dalila Malave of Howell said she and her husband believed Hugin would represent them better than Menendez.

 "Hugin is a great man. We trust him that he will do the right thing," said Malave. "We need an honorable person to represent us. We're tired of Menendez's corruption. He got away with it even though he was guilty."

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Democrats had to dump an additional $3 million to help buoy Bob’s lackluster performance in this reliable Democratic state. Should Hugin win tomorrow, he’d be the first Republican elected from the Garden State since 1972. We’ll have another post about how Jersey Democrats are indeed freaking out over sagging Menendez in the closing days of this race later this afternoon.

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