This wasn’t Bob Hugin’s year to start a new career in politics.
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.
Bob Hugin, successful all of his life, would be a Great Senator from New Jersey. He has my complete and total Endorsement! Get out and Vote for Bob.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2018
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
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