Bob Hugin, a millionaire former pharmaceutical CEO, won Tuesday's Republican primary for U.S. Senate in New Jersey, giving what party leaders believe is a fighting chance in a deep blue state.
Hugin, who was head of drugmaker Celgene, will face incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez in what is expected to a particularly brutish general-election campaign. Already, the challenger has taken aim at the incumbent's federal corruption trial last year, airing a flood of TV ads calling Menendez a "disgrace."
In that trial, jurors deadlocked on charges that Menendez accepted lavish gifts from a friend and campaign donor, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, and then used his position as a senator to advance Melgen's interests. Federal prosecutors declined to retry Menendez and dismissed the charges.
Hugin has his own baggage: his former firm settled a case for $280 million over allegations that it promoted cancer drugs that had not been approved by the FDA. As is customary in such settlements, the company admitted no wrongdoing. Menendez, however, has attacked Hugin as a "greedy" CEO.