May 30, 2024
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Hugin Presents Serious Challenge to Menendez for US Senate

Editor’s note: This is the first article in a four-part series of state race analysis heading into the November 6 midterm elections.

Bob Hugin’s campaign was one of the first to respond to The Jewish Link’s request for answers to key questions.

And it should not be much of a surprise. The first Republican to make a serious bid for the U.S. Senate in nearly 50 years lists his support for Israel first on his campaign website.

In recent months, the 64-year-old former U.S. Marine and business executive has closed the gap between himself and incumbent Democrat Robert Menendez to a mere handful of points. This is Hugin’s first run for office.

A Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican convention, Hugin, 64, a native of Union City in Hudson County, early on supported the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He was also an early, outspoken supporter when it came to moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

He unabashedly writes on his website that he supports a two-state solution only if the Palestinians “unambiguously recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

On the issue of immigration, he is against sanctuary cities, but is in favor of creating legal paths to citizenship for Dreamers and other immigrants.

Married for 30 years with three adult children, two of whom are in the military, Hugin said he is in favor of the Marriage Equality Act and for the rights of LGBTQ Americans to serve in the military.

The Jewish Link caught up with him last Sunday with a list of important campaign questions. Here are his answers to a range of questions.

JLNJ: Do you feel that this year’s midterm elections are the most urgent you can remember in recent years? How did we get to the point of this urgency?

Bob Hugin: This election is really a turning point for our state. For the last 25 years, the people of New Jersey have suffered as a result of Bob Menendez’s corrupt, ineffective track record. We’re dealing with an affordability crisis, and people are leaving the state. It is time for a change in leadership in both Washington and in Trenton.

JLNJ: If the House becomes majority Democrat, what do you think will change for the better for Americans and for New Jersey residents in the short term and in the long term? In the Senate, with the numbers so close in terms of majority, do you feel the two sides could work better together? Is there a growing concern in the state especially over Sen. Booker’s change of heart toward Israel?

Bob Hugin: Regardless of who is in the majority in Congress—Democrats or Republicans—or who the occupant is in the White House, my life’s track record is bringing people together from different backgrounds to solve problems. In the short term, we must address New Jersey’s affordability crisis, which was made worse by Governor Murphy and Trenton’s tax hikes. We have to lift the current cap on state and local tax deductions that unfairly targets New Jersey. In the long term, we have to address our fiscal issues and give people hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Support for Israel shouldn’t be a partisan issue and it’s unfortunate that it has become one as of late. The debate around the Iran deal is a clear example. As Senator, I will be a strong voice for strengthening our relationship with Israel and ensuring the United States continues to support the safety and security of the Israeli people.

There has been a frightening uptick of anti-Israel rhetoric coming from the far-left in the United States and abroad, with much of it actually being hateful. This is concerning, but I believe that most people and elected officials in New Jersey, and even in Washington, are standing firm in support of the only true Democracy in that region of the world. I support measures in the House and Senate designed to condemn and block companies from joining the seriously misguided boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

JLNJ: When you take the pulse of your possible constituents, how are they feeling about the state of the nation these days?

Bob Hugin: New Jerseyans are increasingly frustrated with career politicians and inaction in Washington. They feel that many elected leaders are more interested in being partisan and playing politics than working with each other to solve problems.

JLNJ: What do you wish for the Jewish community during this time of the High Holidays?

Bob Hugin: In this time of self-reflection, my wish for New Jersey’s Jewish community is health, happiness and peace here, in Israel and around the world. I also wish them a happy, prosperous new year and that they are all sealed in the Book of Life.

JLNJ: Do you feel that Israel is in a good place as far as its security is concerned and its relationship with the U.S.? Has the attitude toward Israel changed any since the embassy was moved and after the U.S. pulled out of the Iran Nuclear deal?

Bob Hugin: I support the administration’s efforts on maintaining and improving our ties with Israel and bolstering its security. I also strongly supported moving our embassy to Jerusalem as well as the decision to pull out of the Iran Nuclear deal. When I visited Israel earlier this year, I saw the negative impacts the Iran deal had on Israel’s security. As senator, I will be a staunch advocate for maintaining our important relationship with Israel and ensuring the United States continues to support the safety and security of the Israeli people.

JLNJ: After the midterms are over, does the country almost immediately start looking at 2020? Do you feel the nation is divided at this time?

Bob Hugin: Our nation has become too partisan. That is impeding our ability to come together and find bipartisan solutions to the problems we are facing. My role as senator will be to do what I’ve always done—to bring people together from different backgrounds to achieve positive, lasting results for New Jersey and our nation.

JLNJ: What do you want to see happen at these midterms?

Bob Hugin: I hope the voters of New Jersey recognize the stakes in this election and the stark contrast in character between myself and Bob Menendez. It’s a choice between a corrupt, ineffective career politician who has failed and embarrassed our state or a chance for new leadership and for a senator who will always put New Jersey first.

JLNJ: With day school education on the rise and crippling home budgets of many constituents, do you see something that can be done from Capitol Hill to help families sending their kids to religious schools?

Bob Hugin: Every child deserves a high-quality education and that should not be based on one’s socioeconomic status, zip code or religious background. New Jersey has some of the best schools in the nation, but still too many children are left behind. Washington needs to do more to support families who want to access private and religious institutions. We can accomplish that by expanding charter school education initiatives and fighting for increased funding for special education and religious institutions. We must also ensure every child is safe in the classroom. Federal funding for school safety and security measures will be one of my top priorities.

By Phil Jacobs

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