Half of N.J. Voters Want Menendez To Leave Senate

TRENTON (AP) -

About half of New Jersey’s voters think Sen. Bob Menendez should resign from office after being indicted on corruption charges, a new poll released Thursday finds.

The Quinnipiac poll has 52 percent of voters wanting him to step down while 39 percent think he should not. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll last week, which used a different question to seek similar information, showed 58 percent of voters saying Menendez should stay unless he was convicted.

The Democrat’s approval rating also slipped to 35 percent, down from 46 percent in January.

Menendez was charged April 1 in a 14-count federal indictment that accuses him of using his influence to help Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen in exchange for lavish vacations and campaign donations. Menendez says Melgen, who was also charged, is a friend and that he did nothing illegal or improper on his behalf.

Most of New Jersey’s Democratic hierarchy has spoken in support of Menendez, who says he will not step down.

Menendez spokesman Mike Soliman says the senator has been the victim of a “smear campaign” and that the poll takers left out Menendez’s side of the story when asking respondents what they think he should do.