Rep. Robert Menendez late Thursday formally accepted New Jersey Gov.-elect Jon Corzine’s offer to serve out the remaining year on his Senate term, Democratic congressional sources said.
Corzine will appear with Menendez Friday at 2 p.m. at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., to formally announce his choice, the sources said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not yet been made.
Corzine had decided on Wednesday to choose Menendez over several other candidates, but he did not formally offer Menendez the job until Thursday night. Corzine was elected governor last month; state law gives the governor the authority to fill Senate vacancies. Corzine’s Senate term expires in 2006.
Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, will be the first minority to represent New Jersey in the Senate. Dozens of Hispanic groups lobbied heavily for Corzine to select Menendez. He will join Sens. Ken Salazar, D-Colo. and Mel Martinez, R-Fla. as the Senate’s only Hispanics.
Menendez, 51, has a $4.1 million campaign war chest to run for a full Senate term in 2006.
In an interview with The Associated Press last month, Menendez said he believed he would be an effective senator because “I have walked the shoes of the average New Jerseyan.”
“I have lived in the state virtually my entire life and I have dedicated my adult life to public service within the state,” he said. “As someone who came from immigrant parents and was the first to go to college from my family, I understand the hopes and dreams of aspirations of people.”
The only Republican candidate so far is state Sen. Tom Kean, Jr., son of Thomas Kean, the former governor and former Sept. 11 Commission chairman.