The buildings along the entrance to Fort Monmouth look pretty desolate. Bob Hugin, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, held a news conference here to charge that New Jersey’s federal officials dropped the ball when they allowed the base closing commission to shut it down in 2011.
“The economic impact to New Jersey of closing Fort Monmouth was devastating to many communities and many, many families, so you heard 5,500 full-time jobs on the base lost. That was over $400 million of local payroll that was lost to New Jersey,” Hugin said.
Two freeholders vouched for that point of view.
“We got very little, if any, help from the federal representatives, which is I think the result, as you see here, is a lot of abandoned buildings and the state we’re in now,” said Monmouth County Freeholder Gerry Scharfenberger.
“Both of our federal Democratic senators refused to fight for New Jersey and for Monmouth County,” said Monmouth County Freeholder Patrick Impreveduto.
Hugin talked about the disruption of shutting it down.
“You can feel the sadness of the families that lived in the houses that are now closed down,” Hugin said.
He said the savings were less than anticipated.
“So not only did we get the short end of the stick in New Jersey of losing all these jobs and the economic activity and uprooting families, the federal government, and us as taxpayers, haven’t accrued the benefit that allegedly was to be achieved by this happening,” Hugin said.
Does Hugin blame the disrepair on his opponent Sen. Bob Menendez?
“I think there’s blame to go around for everybody. This base should never have been closed,” he said.
Hugin and Menendez have been hitting each other hard on ethical issues. Hugin has spent lavishly to focus on Menendez’s federal corruption trial that ended in a hung jury.
Menendez counters with a barrage of criticism over Hugin’s role as CEO of pharmaceutical company Celgene
“My opponent took the one drug that his company had, raised it 200 percent. A drug that is necessary for people who have multiple myeloma. It is a drug — the difference between life and death. He raised it 200 percent, and then he went to Russia and made the same deal in terms of the drug, and lowered it by 50 percent,” Menendez said at an event on Aug. 31. “Well if it’s good enough for Russia, it’s good for us here in the United States to get the lower prices as well.”
Hugin says the Russia charge is such a cheap shot and he won’t address it.
“I went to Celgene when the company has six weeks of cash left, and along with others, we turned that company into what today is an American treasure, an icon in the fight against cancer — turning multiple cancers from terminal diseases, to chronic diseases. And because that company walked the walked everyday, and in fact, in 2017 invested 45 percent of its revenue back into R&D [research and development], multiple cancers are on the cusp of being cured,” Hugin said.
A new Menendez ad out Wednesday focuses on Celgene. Hugin questioned why Menendez is running such a negative campaign.
“My campaign is about what I’ve done for the people of New Jersey. And I’d say if I had nothing to say about that and my whole campaign was about trying to tear down somebody who’s trying to make a difference in his life and his life was about producing results for people — everything he’s ever done in his life, whether it was the Marine Corps or at Celgene. I’d be embarrassed by that campaign that it’s only knocking down your competition when you can’t stand for what you’ve done because you’ve done nothing,” Hugin said.
The truth is, they’re both running negative campaigns.