Bob Hugin courts the Latino vote in Jersey City

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

The Latino vote was on Bob Hugin’s agenda Tuesday morning.

In a small Puerto Rican restaurant in downtown Jersey City, Hugin was endorsed by the head of the New Jersey Puerto Rican Congress, an advocacy group, and by Puerto Rico’s lone nonvoting member of the U.S. Congress, Jennifer González-Colón, who took a swipe at New Jersey’s Hispanic senator.

“We don’t need career politicians. We need people who are proven to have better results,” said González-Colón. “That can work across the aisle, that can moderate the language and not be in a just partisan way. I think Bob Hugin can make that difference in the state of New Jersey.”

Hugin told those assembled that he would work to transform health care if elected and implicitly criticized Menendez.

“I’ve got 21 days and about 9 hours to go to convince the people of New Jersey that they deserve better, they are better than what they’re getting. And I promise to work for all New Jerseyans when I’m elected to make sure that we have a representative that’s going to lead with integrity and honor, do the right thing and support all New Jerseyans,” Hugin said.

A new TV ad from Hugin has roiled the waters of the campaign. It dredges up an old issue many thought was settled.

The allegation from 2012 seemed to dry up quickly when two young Dominican women said they were paid to smear Menendez and recanted their stories.

“These are FBI corroborated allegations by underage women that say they had sex with Sen. Menendez unrelated to the two you’re relating. Many people think they’re all the same. They’re not. These are very different,” Hugin said.

The Menendez campaign’s spokesperson, Steve Sandberg, says that’s not true, “No one was corroborated by the FBI. Those other women have never been found. They don’t exist.”

The 60-second ad continues, “President Obama’s Justice Department had evidence that for several years Menendez had been traveling to the Dominican Republic to engage in sexual activity with prostitutes, some of whom were minors.”

“It is clear Bob Hugin will say, do, and spend whatever he wants to try to deceive New Jersey voters and buy a Senate seat,” said Sandberg. “This is a disgraceful act by a desperate man,”

“I’m not desperate in the least. I want the people of New Jersey to have all the information they can have that is fair and appropriate, and sworn FBI affidavits are appropriate information for the public to be aware of,” Hugin said. “I think when someone goes out and has the hypocrisy to tell the American people to listen to women, but not to the women who have corroborated allegations against him, that is the most hypocritical thing you could possibly do.”

Hugin is standing by the ad as truthful and above board. The Menendez camp says it’s a lie and one that hits below the belt.