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New Jersey Congressman Andy Kim kicks off his campaign for U.S. Senate

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Andy Kim launches his campaign for U.S. Senate at a brewery in Pennsauken, New Jersey, on November 10. [Courtesy of his Facebook]

New Jersey U.S. Representative Andy Kim (41, D), a first-time candidate for the U.S. Senate, officially launched his Senate campaign on November 10.

Kim kicked off his campaign for next year’s Senate race at a brewery in Pennsauken, New Jersey. In the same brewery, he announced his 2018 bid for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kim, the first Korean American who won a third term in the House of Representatives, announced his Senate challenge in response to the recent indictment of fellow New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez on bribery charges.

“It doesn’t have to be this broken politics where you just have people putting their own personal ambition ahead of what’s good for this country,” Kim said in his campaign kickoff speech.

“I’ve shown that I can win tough races. I’m battle-tested,” he said, referring to his three terms in the House of Representatives. “I believe more than ever that New Jersey needs hardworking, trustworthy leaders focused on the common good and injecting some integrity and civility back into our politics. Help me build a movement to restore faith in our democracy.”

If Kim wins the election next year, he will become the first Korean American to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Raised in southern New Jersey, Kim is a Middle East security expert who graduated from the University of Chicago. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and earned a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University in England.

He joined the State Department in September 2009 as an Iraq specialist and, in 2011, served as the Strategic Advisor to the Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan in Kabul. In 2013 and 2015, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Iraq at the Department of Defense and the White House National Security Council (NSC), respectively.

Kim’s district is in south-central New Jersey, a heavily Republican state, but he won a third term in last year’s midterm elections.

Menendez was previously indicted along with his wife in September on charges of accepting bribes from Egyptian and related businessmen. The New York prosecutors who charged them disclosed more than $550,000 in cash and 13 gold bars seized from the Menendez home.

Menendez has remained in the Senate since the indictment, denying the charges in the face of calls for his resignation from within and outside the Democratic Party. However, he has not yet said whether he will run in next year’s election.

Kim has been at the forefront of calls for Menendez’s resignation and is currently leading a group of challengers to the senator.

On the Democratic side, Kim is expected to be joined by Tammy Murphy, the wife of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who is expected to announce her candidacy.

BY BRIAN CHOI [ichoi@koreadaily.com]