Indicted Sen. Bob Menendez files for re-election as an independent

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., filed Monday to run for re-election to the Senate as an independent, according to two sources with direct knowledge of his plans.

NBC News had previously reported that the three-term senator had gathered enough signatures to run as an independent for another term in the Senate as he faces a trial on federal bribery charges. His filing comes one day before the state’s deadline for independent candidates and allows him to collect fewer signatures and still access the ballot; the deadline to run as a Democrat is long past.

The New Jersey Globe first reported that Menendez planned to file Monday. In the end, he filed just over 2,000 signatures, one source told NBC News.

Menendez’s decision to run for re-election also allows him to continue to raise and spend campaign funds on legal fees amid the ongoing corruption trial. Menendez has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

Menendez’s filing also comes on the eve of the state’s primary, where Rep. Andy Kim is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for his seat. Kim has previously warned that a Menendez run as an independent could put the deep-blue state in play in November.

Kim filed to run for the seat in March with roughly 6,000 signatures. He posted on X Monday that Menendez “isn’t running for NJ families. He’s running for himself. People are fed up with politicians putting their own personal benefit ahead of what’s right for the country.”

Also on Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Rob Menendez, the senator’s son, is facing a competitive race in the 8th District against Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla.

A pro-Bhalla outside group called America’s Promise PAC has launched a TV ad tying Rob Menendez to his father’s trial, with a narrator saying: “They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. So it’s no wonder that Rob Menendez is defending his father’s corruption,” later added that the congressman is “rotten to the core.” (Rob Menendez has not been accused of any impropriety.)