In a state with a colorful history, it takes a lot for a New Jersey politician to cross the line into political toxicity.
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez has found himself at the center of a growing controversy, with accusations swirling of a questionable friendship with a Florida eye surgeon being investigated for Medicare fraud, improper flights to the Dominican Republic and alleged patronizing of prostitutes — including underage girls — while in the Caribbean nation.
In some states, these allegations — and the fact the Senate Ethics Committee has joined federal investigators in looking into the explosive claims — would be enough to sink Menendez. But in New Jersey, that may not be enough to topple the Hudson County political boss, who runs the political machine for a part of Jersey known for being rough and tumble and who easily won reelection last year.
“Six years is a long time,” said Democratic former Sen. Robert Torricelli , who left the Senate a decade ago under his own ethics cloud. “I think Bob Menendez is a very tenacious person, and he has the advantage of six long years and a fairly forgiving political environment in New Jersey.
“I wouldn’t be wasting time on a Bob Menendez political obituary,” he added.