Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., has announced that he plans to run against Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who is facing mounting pressure from Democrats to resign after he was charged with bribery in a recent indictment filed in Manhattan federal court.
After he called for Menendez to step down on Friday, Kim said Saturday that he plans on challenging Menendez for his Senate seat.
“Not something I expected to do, but NJ deserves better,” Kim wrote in a post to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, asking for donations. “We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Democratic state committee chairman LeRoy J. Jones Jr. have joined the growing chorus of New Jersey politicians calling for Menendez to step down.
Gottheimer said in a statement Saturday that Menendez "has been a critical voice and a tough fighter for Jersey, with a strong record," that includes gun safety, protecting women's rights and fighting racism and antisemitism.
"I believe the Senator deserves his day in court, with a presumption of innocence," Gottheimer said in the statement posted to X. "That said, given the gravity of the allegations, I believe it will be difficult for the Senator to carry out his responsibilities. For the good of the state, he should step aside as he focuses on his defense."
Jones Jr. issued a similar statement, calling on Menendez to "resign so that he can focus his full attention on his legal defense," while urging that he "should be afforded the same presumption of innocence that the U.S. Constitution guarantees to all Americans."
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., said the charges against Menendez were "very concerning," and suggested he should step down but did not outright say it.
"Under our legal system, Senator Menendez maintains the presumption of innocence until proven guilty," she wrote in a statement Saturday. "I pray for the Senator and hope he will make the right decision, one that is in the best interest of the State and all New Jerseyans."
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the indictment against Menendez "sickening."
"No public official making $174,000 a year should have nearly $500,000 in cash stuffed in clothes in his house, not to mention gold bars. He should resign," Christie wrote in a post to his X account Saturday.
Their remarks come after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Rep. Mikie Sherrill called on Menendez to resign on Friday.
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., also called on Menendez to resign over the weekend. "He’s entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system, but he is not entitled to continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations. I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial," Fetterman said in a statement.
Menendez rejected calls for his resignation Friday, saying in a statement: “Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty. I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades."
“This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along. It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere,” he added.
Menendez and his wife, Nadine Menendez, were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, according to his second indictment since becoming a senator. The senator allegedly wielded the power of his official position to enrich three New Jersey businessmen and benefit the Egyptian government.
Menendez has said he intends to fight the charges. "It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere,” he wrote in a statement after the indictment was made public Friday.
A representative for Menendez did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Rep. Andy Kim’s intention to challenge him and the latest calls for his resignation.