Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin has spent his entire campaign in New Jersey distancing himself from President Donald Trump. A last-second endorsement from the president likely will not help his long-shot bid to unseat scandal-wracked Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez.
In an Election Day tweet, the president said Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive, "would be a Great Senator from New Jersey." Trump added: "He has my complete and total Endorsement!"
Trump tweet: Bob Hugin, successful all of his life, would be a Great Senator from New Jersey. He has my complete and total Endorsement! Get out and Vote for Bob.
In a blue state where polling suggests concerns about a Republican Congress boosting Trump's agenda outweighs concerns about Menendez's ethics issues, the endorsement does not make much sense. In a statement responding to Trump's tweet, Menendez campaign spokesman Steven Sandberg responded simply: "Thank you."
New Jersey Democrats have in recent weeks cast Hugin as a Trump ally who would help the president's agenda in the Senate. Republicans have a 51-49 majority in the chamber, and a Hugin upset would all but assure GOP control for the next two years.
Hugin donated six figures to Trump's cause in 2016, was the finance chairman for Trump's New Jersey campaign and served on his presidential transition team. Yet, throughout his campaign, Hugin spent millions of dollars of his own money on ads that not only hammered Menendez for ethics charges, but also cast the former Celgene CEO as an independent-minded candidate who would not pay heed to party when making decisions.