NJ teachers union backs Menendez for Senate; Hugin calls endorsement ‘a terrible position’

VAUXHALL, N.J. -- Amid reports that the federal government has considered allowing federal education dollars to go toward guns for teachers, the top candidates running for U.S. Senate in New Jersey agree on one thing: they don't want teachers to bear arms in the classroom.

"I haven’t met a teacher yet who wants to be armed. They want to arm their students with the education they need to be able to succeed," Sen. Bob Menendez said as supporters outside Jefferson Elementary School cheered him on.

Menendez was officially endorsed by the state's largest teachers union, the NJEA, on Thursday. He also picked up an endorsement this week from New Jersey SEIU earlier this week, a service workers union.

“As the product of New Jersey’s public schools, I understand firsthand why it’s so important for every child to have a chance at a first-rate education and a high-quality teacher in the classroom," Menendez said.

"I will never stop fighting to expand early education, to make sure our public schools are state-of-the-art and that our educators have the resources they need to ensure each student is given the keys to unlock their full potential.”

In a statement Thursday, opponent Bob Hugin’s camp said the NJEA has put “hard-working public school teachers…in a terrible position by backing corrupt, career politician Bob Menendez who was severely admonished by his Senate colleagues for violating federal law and abusing the power of his office…”

New Jersey voters have not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972. But recent polls show the gap between Menendez and Hugin is shrinking.

Menendez leads Hugin by 6 points in this most recent Quinnipiac poll (43 to 37 percent).

Menendez’s reputation was tarnished by a criminal indictment which ended in a mistrial last November. Federal prosecutors later dropped the case.

Hugin has also injured the Democrat with a blitz of attack ads. One released this week labels Menendez as a “corrupt politician”.

Election Day is Nov. 6.