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Kim wins New Jersey’s Democratic primary

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(The Center Square) — Democrat Rep. Andy Kim cruised to victory in New Jersey’s Democratic primary to win the party’s nomination for a U.S. Senate seat occupied by indicted Sen. Bob Menendez, now running as an independent.

Kim, 41, a third-term congressman who jumped into the Senate race after Menendez was indicted on federal bribery charges, defeated labor leader Patricia Campos-Medina and longtime grassroots organizer Lawrence Hamm. His victory came after a bruising primary fight.

“We built a stunningly powerful grassroots movement that took down the unfair ballot line and changed NJ politics forever,” Kim posted on X Tuesday night. “Now we are ready to take our movement for change to the U.S. Senate!”

The Senate race drew a bid from First Lady Tammy Murphy, the wife of two-term New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who suspended her campaign in March, citing a reluctance to engage in a “very divisive and negative campaign” against fellow Democrats.

Kim also filed a lawsuit arguing that New Jersey’s primary ballot design unconstitutionally favors candidates who have the support of political party leaders and should be scrapped. In April, a federal judge ruled in his favor, saying the system whereby Democratic or Republican candidates are listed at the top of a ballot on a party or ‘county line’ is unconstitutional.

Kim will face Curtis Bashaw, a wealthy hotelier who defeated a Trump-backed candidate for the Republican nomination, in November’s general election.

But he will also face a challenge from Menendez, a three-term incumbent senator, who declined to seek re-election as a Democrat but filed paperwork on Monday to run as an independent.

Menendez, 70, and his wife, Nadine, were indicted last year on charges of accepting gold bars, cash and other bribes in exchange for wielding his political influence for Egypt, Qatar and his business friends. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denies any wrongdoing. He has refused to step down ahead of his trial despite calls from fellow Democrats, including Gov. Murphy and fellow Democratic Sen. Cory Booker.

New Jersey voters on Tuesday also picked incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden and former president and GOP candidate Donald Trump, both of whom are already their parties’ presumptive nominees.

They also decided a handful of contested primaries for House candidates, including a race between U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez, Sen. Menendez’s son, who won a Democratic primary over Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

In the 3rd Congressional District race to succeed Kim, state Assemblyman Herb Conaway won the Democratic primary over state Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, and will face Republican Rajesh Mohan, who also won Tuesday, in the November elections.

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