New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy reportedly plans to enter the 2024 Democratic primary against scandal-tarred Sen. Bob Menendez.
Murphy, the wife of Gov. Phil Murphy, plans to file paperwork to launch a Senate bid as soon as later this week, according to several published reports, joining Menendez and Rep. Andy Kim in the race.
Tammy Murphy, 59, who is little known outside Trenton political circles, would enter the race as an underdog. Kim so far leads polls by a wide margin.
Tammy Murphy has played an active role alongside Phil Murphy since the moderate Democrat and former ambassador to Germany was elected to the governor’s mansion in 2018.
She could face questions over her background as a longtime registered Republican. She voted in N.J. GOP primaries as recently as 2014 even as her husband worked as a Democratic National Committee fundraiser, records show.
“We’ll see if she gets in,” Menendez told Politico. “She’ll have to deal with a lot of baggage.”
The winner of the Democratic primary would be a prohibitive favorite to win the seat in deep blue New Jersey, especially in a presidential election year in which the Democratic base would be expected to turn out in high numbers.
All bets would be out the window if Menendez can somehow find a way to clinch the Democratic nomination, potentially giving the GOP a historic opening to grab a seat in a Democratic stronghold and help them retake control of the Senate.
The powerful lawmaker has been charged by federal prosecutors with accepting bribes to protect Egypt from scrutiny over its spotty human rights record and to defend its giant American aid package.
He denies the charges and has vowed to win reelection for a fourth term in the Senate. Menendez, whose son represents a House district in their home base of Hudson County, has stepped down from his position as chair of the Senate foreign relations committee.
Since his indictment, polls show Menendez is highly unpopular among Jersey voters, with an approval rating less than 10% in polls.
Kim, a popular third-term lawmaker from a suburban swing district in central New Jersey, holds a commanding lead over both Menendez and Murphy in polls of a potential three-way race.