Bound to the hip with Trump, ex-Celgene chief Bob Hugin gets whipped in New Jersey Senate race

This wasn’t Bob Hugin’s year to start a new career in politics.

Bioregnum Opinion Column by John Carroll

The ex-Celgene exec, widely lauded in the investment community for the company’s fast growth under his leadership, wound up losing the race for the Senate seat for New Jersey to Bob Menendez, despite spending $35 million of his personal fortune on the quest.

In one of the most brutal confrontations during a divisive mid-term election, the ex-Marine Hugin hammered his opponent on ethics following Menendez’s indictment — ending in a hung jury — for corruption related to a plethora of free gifts from a local doc he helped out. The doctor was later convicted for plundering Medicare.

The message from local Dems and newspapers: Just hold your nose and vote for Menendez rather than support a Republican expected to back President Donald Trump’s agenda. And right now, in 2018, Trump has a badly damaged brand in a blue state like New Jersey.

“The people of New Jersey do deserve better,” Hugin said in his concession speech after he managed to gain only 43.8% of the vote.

That’s a painful whipping for a Senate race.

For his part, Menendez slammed Hugin for regularly raising the price of Revlimid, Celgene’s cash cow. Pharma, like Hugin, doesn’t have the best reputation in the country. Ironically, Trump has played into that with his regular diatribes against the pharma industry and its ability to “get away with murder.”

Trump also didn’t do Hugin any good with a last-minute endorsement.

Hugin did whatever he could to put distance between himself and the unpopular (in New Jersey) president. But after years of steadfast support for the Republican party in the state, there was no wrestling free of a connection that helped define him in a critical election year.

Image: Bob Hugin. AP IMAGES

The best place to read Endpoints News? In your inbox.

Comprehensive daily news report for those who discover, develop, and market drugs. Join 50,700+ biopharma pros who read Endpoints News by email every day.

Free Subscription

Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

Visit Endpoints Careers ->