published : 2023-09-25

All eyes on NJ Gov Murphy if Menendez changes course and resigns unexpectedly

'I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I've had for the past 5 decades,' says Sen Bob Menendez

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez giving a press conference, determined and resolute, taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife are facing corruption and bribery charges that have led to amplified calls for the senior Democrat to resign from the Senate.

Menendez, however, has remained defiant. During a Monday morning press conference, he said he believes he will be exonerated and remain in Congress's upper chamber.

However, if he were to unexpectedly resign, all eyes would be on New Jersey Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy.

Federal prosecutors unsealed charges against Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his wife, Nadine Menendez, on Friday, charges that include accusations that he benefited the government of Egypt and engaged in a corrupt scheme alongside Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer, Wael Hana, who runs a halal meat certification business in the state, and businessman Jose Uribe.

Menendez has since encountered growing calls to resign from within his own political party. New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she believes it is in the 'best interest' for Menendez to resign. Murphy has also said he believes Menendez should give up his Senate seat.

If Menendez were to change course and resign, Murphy would appoint someone to fill his Senate seat until his term ends in January 2025.

Speculation has swirled that if this scenario were to unfold, Murphy would likely pick either Rep. Andy Kim or Rep. Mikie Sherrill, both Democrats, given that they would make history, as the New Jersey Globe reported.

Governor Phil Murphy addressing the media, closely watched by the public, taken with Nikon D850.

Kim would be the first Asian-American senator from New Jersey while Sherrill would be the state's first female senator.

Kim, meanwhile, announced Saturday that he is running against Menendez in the state's Democrat primary. Menendez has maintained that he is not going anywhere.

'Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty,' Menendez previously said. '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,' he continued. '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.'

The federal indictment alleges that Menendez used his power and influence while serving in the U.S. Senate to enter into a scheme that ultimately benefited the Egyptian government. It stated that the lawmaker and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes 'to seek to protect and enrich' Daibes, Hana and Uribe.

The bribes included cash, gold bars, home mortgage payments, compensation for no-show jobs, a luxury vehicle, and 'other things of value,' according to the indictment.

In a statement after the indictment, Menendez denied any wrongdoing and said that forces 'behind the scenes' are working to silence him and dig his 'political grave.'

Congressional building in Washington D.C., symbolizing the power and authority of the Senate, taken with Sony A7 III.

He added that his behavior laid out in the indictment was all well within his office's authority.

Joe Schoffstall is a politics producer/reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to and on Twitter: @joeschoffstall

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