Embattled US Senator Menendez says he won't seek reelection as Democrat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Embattled U.S. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said on Thursday he would not run for reelection as a Democrat, but suggested he could run as an independent.

Prosecutors have charged Menendez with taking bribes from New Jersey businessmen to impede law enforcement probes into them, illegally acting as an agent of the Egyptian government and obstruction of justice. Menendez has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The senator has faced calls to resign, including from members of his own party, but has resisted.

Menendez’s seat is up for reelection in November and more than a dozen people have filed to run, including Representative Andy Kim and Tammy Murphy, the wife of the state’s governor. Democrats and the independents who caucus with them hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate that they are hoping to hold onto amid a half-dozen competitive races.

“I will not file for the Democratic primary this June. I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election,” Menendez said in a video posted online.

New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972.

Menendez’s trial is set to begin May 6.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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