Former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin is looking to be the first Republican in 46 years to serve as a New Jersey senator who is pro-choice and supports marriage equality.
Hugin, a Marine Corps veteran who retired in January as executive chairman of Celgene Corp., is looking to unseat two-term Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez in the midterm elections in November. Menendez was under Senate Ethics Committee investigation on charges of bribery and corruption after allegedly accepting gifts, campaign donations and vacations in exchange for political favors. The case ended in a mistrial, leaving the federal bribery charges unresolved.
Hugin described himself as a “different kind of Republican” in his latest TV ad, saying he supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage. The commercial featured clips from his June 5 acceptance speech after winning the Republican primary. In the ad, Hugin says to a crowd of supporters: “It’s not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about working together. That’s what we need more of in Congress. That means being a different kind of Republican. I’m pro-choice, pro-marriage equality and I strongly support equal pay for equal work.”
Hugin told PGN that his campaign priority is putting the people of New Jersey first.
“It’s not just about being a different kind of Republican; it’s about being a different kind of public servant. It means putting people ahead of party and politics,” he said. “Most people appreciate the fact that I’m not someone who will just toe the party line and blindly side with my party on every single issue. My values and principles have not and will not change based on others’ support or dissent.”
In his primary victory speech June 5, Menendez criticized Hugin’s ad, accusing him of “election conversion.”
Hugin was a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, then served as finance chairman for Trump’s New Jersey campaign and donated $100,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC. When asked about support for Trump, he replied, “I don’t need to create distance from anyone. I am more than happy to run on my experience as a U.S. Marine, a business leader and someone who has consistently outlined positions in this campaign that put New Jersey first.”
In May, Hugin said at a roundtable discussion with Seaside Heights business owners that it was “ridiculous” that the Trump administration is seeking to cut $107 million in Hurricane Sandy relief money that was previously awarded to New Jersey. Hugin also said he opposed the $7 billion in cuts the Trump administration is seeking from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).