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Andy Kim launches formal challenge to Menendez: ‘It’s about being a decent human being’

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) officially launched his campaign to unseat Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Friday at a packed brewery in South Jersey.

The third-term congressman was one of the first Democrats to call on Menendez to resign in the wake of a corruption indictment, and announced a primary bid against him the next day

“It doesn’t have to be this broken politics where you just have people putting their own personal ambition ahead of what’s good for this country,” Kim said Friday. “It’s about being a decent human being — a decent human being that treats other people with respect.”

Kim is selling himself as an experienced and level-headed leader dedicated to public service. Before running for Congress, he worked at the State Department and served as national security adviser under the Obama administration.

“I believe more than ever that New Jersey needs hard working, trustworthy leaders focused on the common good and injecting some integrity and civility back into our politics,” Kim wrote in his announcement. “We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity any longer.”

“Help me build a movement to restore faith in our democracy,” he added.

Kim, 41, is relying on a grassroots effort to take the seat as many New Jersey establishment Democrats have rallied around Tammy Murphy, the wife of Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), in what is expected to be a closely contended primary — whether Menendez ends up running for reelection or not. Murphy, who has not yet launched a formal bid, is expected to enter the race as early as next week.

“I’ve shown that I can win tough races. I’m battle tested. I’ve won three of the toughest races in recent history in New Jersey,” the New Jersey congressman told reporters after the event. “[Voters] want someone who is a workhorse, not a show horse — someone who’s gonna just get the job done. That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

Menendez was charged in September with conspiracy to commit bribery, extortion, honest services fraud and other corruption charges.

Prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to help a group of New Jersey businessmen and interests in Egypt.

The FBI found almost half a million dollars in cash in the New Jersey senator’s home last year during a raid, as well as over $100,000 in gold bars allegedly given to Menendez and his wife by the businessmen.

Menendez has denied wrongdoing and said he won’t step down from the Senate, despite calls from nearly every federally-elected Democrat for him to do so.

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