ESSEX COUNTY, N.J. (PIX11) – In the wake of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s indictment is a cloudier picture of who will serve in the seat starting in 2025. Despite facing federal charges, alleging him as serving as a foreign agent, and multiple calls from state and federal officials for him to resign, Menendez has not changed course and will seek re-election. 

Entering are two heavyweight Democratic candidates challenging the embattled senator in next year’s primary: New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy and Congressman Andy Kim.

Voters PIX11 News spoke with, like Patricia Owens from Essex County, said they’re growing weary of politicians under investigation and welcome some competition.

“For these new people to come out, hey, maybe we need a younger mind to come up in there,” said Owens.

“I think one way or another, [Menendez is] not going to be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2024,” said former New Jersey state legislator John Wisniewski. “He’s either going to lose the Democratic primary or he’s going to be forced out of office before the primary happens.”

Wisniewski said both Kim and Murphy have powerful fundraising ability. He predicts more candidates will jump in to fight Menendez.

“You run the prospect in this election of potentially having two, three maybe more candidates vying for the nomination,” said Wisniewski, “so the winner could literally become the nominee with 30, 40 percent of the vote – less than a clear majority, but that’s what happens when you have this kind of upset where the incumbent has no chance of continuing to serve. Everybody sees this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to jump into a Senate seat.”

Meanwhile, Owens said she prays for brighter days ahead.

“I just want everything to be wonderful,” said Owens. “Whoever we get, I just want things to just come back and just be how it is and not be living scared.”