People, Politics

Taking on a big challenge, ex-Celgene CEO Bob Hugin readies a run for the Senate

Can a highly successful biopharma executive and ex-Marine win a Senate race for the Republicans in New Jersey?

Ex-Celgene CEO — and until a few days ago executive chairman — Bob Hugin intends to find that out.

For years Hugin impressed Wall Street with his record of big annual revenue gains and a blizzard of partnership deals around the world for his biotech. That earned Celgene a market cap of $72 billion.

Recently, though, the die-hard conservative and Republican stalwart had been discussing a run for the Senate seat of Democrat Robert Menendez, who was just let off the hook on federal bribery charges. And today Bloomberg reports that Hugin will make it official with a formal announcement on Tuesday.

Rich Bagger

Unlike some of his fellow heavyweight CEOs in the business, Hugin enjoyed close relations with President Donald Trump in the White House. At one point he had been a big backer of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his run at the White House. Celgene executive vice president Rich Bagger went on leave to direct the transition crew for Donald Trump at one point under his old boss Christie.

This year in particular Hugin would be facing a tough run in a Democratic leaning state like New Jersey, where the president has been painfully unpopular. Also not helpful: Celgene became enormously profitable by jacking up the price on Revlimid every year, which may not sit well with the average citizen these days.

In his favor: Hugin is a campaigner. He knows how to win people over and his self-confidence has proven to be a winner in his line of work. His military service won’t be ignored. He’s also rumored to have pledged $20 million of his own fortune to win the race, and he has the ties necessary to raise millions more.

Jumping into politics in the deep end won’t be easy for Hugin — but betting against him could prove costly.


Image: Bob Hugin. Getty Images


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