NJ Politics Digest: How Does Supreme Court Vacancy Affect State’s US Senate Race?

Bob Menendez.

Bob Menendez. Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Bob Menendez. Kena Betancur/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has said today is the day he’ll announce his pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and no matter who Trump picks, or the outcome of the nomination, it’s likely to have an impact on the election battle currently being fought by New Jersey incumbent Sen. Robert Menendez and his Republican challenger Bob Hugin.

An article in The Bergen Record looked at how the fight could fire up the constituencies of both candidates, transforming a campaign where both candidates face weak pockets in their support into a hard-fought battle with engaged voters on both sides.

Menendez comes into the fight wounded following his trial last year on corruption charges and admonishment by the Senate ethics committee. Hugin, who has said he is “a pro-choice and pro-marriage equality Republican,” undoubtedly is disappointing hard-line social conservatives in his party.

Trump’s Supreme Court pick could motivate folks on either side, who might have sat out November’s contest, to support their party’s candidate, even if they don’t necessarily have their whole-hearted support, according to the article.

The piece, however, quotes others who say that it’s unlikely any presidential pick will change too much in the electoral dynamics of this blue state, no matter how much it motivates people.

“A reluctant vote for Hugin counts the same as an enthusiastic vote,” was how Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray summed up the plight of conservatives who might be disappointed by Hugin’s views but can’t bring themselves to vote for Menendez.

Quote of the Day: “We had a difference of opinion on that.’’ — U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, about confronting Russian officials about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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