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Sen. Bob Menendez's indictment shakes up political landscape in New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy calls for indicted Sen. Bob Menendez to resign
Gov. Phil Murphy calls for indicted Sen. Bob Menendez to resign 02:06

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is calling on Sen. Bob Menendez to resign in the wake of a new bombshell indictment

If Menendez were to step down before the end of his term, Murphy, a Democrat, would pick a replacement. 

In a statement, Murphy said: 

"The allegations in the indictment against Senator Menendez and four other defendants are deeply disturbing. These are serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system. Under our legal system, Senator Menendez and the other defendants have not been found guilty and will have the ability to present evidence disputing these charges, and we must respect the process. However, the alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menendez to effectively represent the people of our state. Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation."  

Menendez responded with the following 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."

The indictment - and calls for his resignation - could have local and national political implications. 

Menendez and his wife are accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gold bars in exchange for official acts. 

"I think gold bars is a little bit, it's a much. That's just, like, a whole another level of corruption," Jersey City resident Keely Richardson said. 

Indictment could have impact locally and nationally

What does New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez's indictment mean politically? 01:21

Before the indictment, Menendez faced at least two challengers in next year's election: Kyle Jasey, of Jersey City, is a political newcomer who works in real estate, and Christine Serrano Glassner is the Republican mayor of Mendham Borough. 

"It's not surprising. 'Gold Bar Bob 'has faced credible allegations of corruption for over a decade," Serrano Glassner said. 

"This kind of hammers home the point to a lot of New Jerseyans that it's time for a change. You know, once again we've been embarrassed on the national stage," Jasey said. 

The indictment means more Republicans, and even Democrats, could smell blood in the water and jump in the race. 

"And a lot of those top contenders are already serving seats within New Jersey. Whether it's somebody like Mikie Sherrill, or Josh Gottheimer, or Andy Kim," Ashley Koning said. Koning is the director of the Rutgers Eagleton poll.  

There are also national political ramifications. Democrats hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate. 

Calls for Menendez to resign

Republicans in the Garden State are calling on Menendez to resign. 

"The people of New Jersey deserve better than this. And I'm calling on the Democratic leaders in the State of New Jersey to join me in asking for the senator's resignation immediately," New Jersey State Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio said. 

Menendez denies the charges and vowed to continue his work in the Senate. He is, however, stepping down from the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would leave his position until the matter has been resolved.

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