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Rep.-elect Robert Menendez Jr., D-N.J., and his father Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., in the House chamber on Jan. 3, 2023.
Rep.-elect Robert Menendez Jr., D-N.J., and his father Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., in the House chamber on Jan. 3, 2023.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via AP

Rep. Rob Menendez Jr.: "I never saw myself" running for office

On the Chuck ToddCast, Rep. Rob Menendez Jr. reflects on what led him to follow in his father's footsteps to a career in politics.


Rep. Rob Menendez Jr., D-N.J., joined the Chuck ToddCast last week and discussed the career impact of having a famous politician Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. — as a father.

"I always appreciated the opportunities that I had growing up around two parents who were committed to public service," Menendez said about his father, who was a politician, and his mother, who was a schoolteacher. "But I never saw myself, definitely at that age, running for public office."

Menendez added that it was hard to pursue a political career, particularly when he would compare his career to that of his father.

"If you constantly are trying to prove what you’re not, you never get to the point of asking yourself who you want to be. And you know, it’s challenging, right, following in a parent’s footsteps," he said.

Still, Menendez said he has charted a path for himself at least to the House of Representatives, where he expects to pursue a rigorous agenda.

"When I would be questioned about different policies and things that you want to do in Washington, what I would ask myself is, is it good for working families? And if it is, then that’s something that we should pursue," he told Todd.

"I think if we focus on what our core issues [are] — which I know is difficult when you think about how expansive the party is in 2022, and moving into 2023 — but, if we focus on those core principles, and talk to folks about the struggles that they are feeling today, then I think we will continue to see more voters resonate with our message," Menendez added.

Particularly on immigration, Menendez wants to make an impact this term.

"Our federal government has failed on this front. For decades, Democrats have failed [and] Republicans failed," Menendez told Todd about immigration.

He added, "What I’ve realized in running this race is that the work in this country is never done. And we’re nowhere near the finish line on immigration. But we can’t give up because it matters too much to too many people."