The New Jersey Republican running for U.S. Senate, Bob Hugin, is advertising his support for abortion rights and same-sex marriage in a new television commercial airing on cable and broadcast stations in New York and Philadelphia, which reach the whole state.
The stances set Hugin apart from most of his party, but in the 46 years since New Jersey last elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate, it has elected two pro-choice Republican governors to two terms each, Thomas Kean Sr. and Christine Todd Whitman.
Kean is seen briefly in Hugin's new ad, which features clips from the acceptance speech he gave June 5 when he won the Republican primary.
A former chairman and chief executive of the pharmaceutical maker Celgene, Hugin describes his service in the Marines, saying success did not depend on party membership but on working together.
"That’s what we need more of in Congress. That means being a different kind of Republican," Hugin says. "I am pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, and strongly support equal pay for equal work. Politicians would rather point fingers. I will be different."
The story continues below the video.
Hugin is trying to unseat three-term Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who spent much of last fall successfully battling an indictment accusing him of bribery and other crimes, then was "severely admonished" by the Senate Ethics Committee for taking undisclosed gifts from a friend and advocating for the friend's personal and business interests with the Obama administration.
Menendez said he went through "the ultimate public scrutiny" at the trial so that issue is "pretty well determined." About the admonishment, he said he "had a different understanding of disclosure under the rules" and thought he qualified for a friendship exception. He made no apologies for his advocacy, saying his efforts were focused on port security, drug prices and helping people who were qualified to gain entry to the United States.
Hugin, who loaned his campaign $7.5 million earlier this year, spent heavily on ads attacking Menendez's ethics before the primary. And while Menendez won the nomination comfortably on primary day, an opponent who did not spend enough to meet the $5,000 threshold requiring disclosures to the Federal Election Commission won 38 percent of the vote in an apparent protest vote by the state's Democrats.
Menendez has accused Hugin, who never ran for office before but was a contributor to President Trump and a delegate supporting his nomination at the 2016 Republican National Convention, of an "election conversion" on issues
"I haven’t heard him say, when this administration tries to undermine a woman’s right to choose ... and Planned Parenthood, I didn’t hear him stand up for Planned Parenthood," Menendez said in a June 4 interview.