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New Jersey’s first lady suspends U.S. Senate campaign

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(The Center Square) — New Jersey’s First Lady, Tammy Murphy, has suspended her bid for embattled Sen. Bob Menendez’s U.S. Senate seat, citing concerns about dividing the state’s Democratic Party with a “divisive and negative” campaign.

In a video posted on social media on Sunday, Murphy announced that she is bowing out of the race to replace Menendez — who is fighting several indictments on federal bribery charges — in a move that likely locks down the party’s nomination for Democratic Rep. Andy Kim ahead of the November general election.

“After many busy, invigorating, and yes, challenging months. I am suspending my Senate campaign today,” Murphy posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “It is clear to me that continuing in this race will involve waging a very divisive and negative campaign, which I am not willing to do.”

Murphy, the wife of two-term New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, also took aim at former President Donald Trump in her announcement, calling him a “dangerous threat” and encouraging Democrats to come together ahead of the presidential election, when incumbent President Joe Biden is seeking another term.

“With Donald Trump on the ballot and so much at stake for our nation, I will not in good conscience waste resources tearing down a fellow Democrat,” she said. “My campaign has been about solutions for families and a vision for the next generation.”

Murphy’s exit from the race widens Kim’s path to securing the party’s nomination, with Menendez facing over a dozen federal criminal charges for accepting bribes in exchange for wielding his influence to benefit the Egyptian and Qatari governments and several New Jersey business cronies.

Last week, Menendez announced that he won’t run for a fourth term as a Democrat but left the door open to a potential run for his seat as an Independent candidate. Federal prosecutors accuse Menendez and his wife, Nadine, of accepting gold bars, cash and other bribes in exchange for wielding his political influence for Egypt and his business friends.

Menendez denied any wrongdoing and refused to step down from office while he fought federal indictments in court.

In a statement, Kim called for unity and urged his supporters to show “respect and appreciation” for Murphy and “her continued service to our state and country.”

“It’s important to take a step back and remember that we are all a part of something bigger than all of us,” Kim posted on social media. “We are here at this moment today because of the extraordinary grassroots movement growing in NJ. And I can promise you we are going to keep running the strongest possible campaign imaginable through Election Day.”

Murphy’s decision to bow out of the race also comes just days before a judge was expected to rule on a lawsuit — filed by Kim — challenging New Jersey’s county line party ballot system as unconstitutional.

Under New Jersey’s election laws, candidates nominated for primaries by local Democratic or Republican organizations are listed at the top of a ballot on a party or county line. Kim and other critics say that gives them preferential treatment.

Several Republicans are running for the Senate seat, hoping that Menendez’s legal woes will help the party send a GOP lawmaker to Washington, D.C., for the first time in decades.

“This is the latest sign that voters, even Democrats, are sick of the status quo in Trenton and Washington,” GOP hopeful Curtis Bashaw posted on social media in response to Murphy’s announcement. “We don’t need more career DC insiders like Andy Kim. It is time for an outsider, an entrepreneur, a job creator to help take back Washington for the people who deserve better.”

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