Monday, May 25, 2009
United States Senator
from New Jersey
January 18, 2006
Serving with Frank Lautenberg
Preceded by Jon Corzine
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 13th district
January 5, 1993 – January 18, 2006
Preceded by Jim Saxton
Succeeded by Albio Sires
Born January 1, 1954 (age 55)
New York City, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse Jane Menendez (Divorced)
Children Alicia Menendez
Residence Hoboken, New Jersey
Alma mater Saint Peter's College
Religion Roman Catholic
Robert "Bob" Menendez (born January 1, 1954) is the junior United States Senator from New Jersey and a member of the Democratic Party. In January 2006, he was appointed by Jon Corzine to fill the seat made vacant by Corzine's resignation from the Senate to serve as Governor of New Jersey; Menendez subsequently won the seat in the November 7 general election later that year. Before his appointment to the Senate, he represented New Jersey's 13th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 2006. He currently resides in Hoboken. He is the first person of Hispanic ethnicity to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.
After the 2008 elections, Menendez was appointed to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 
Menendez was born in New York City to Cuban immigrants Evangelina and Mario Menendez. Fleeing Cuba in 1953 due to their dislike of the Batista government, his parents came to New York. His father was a mechanic and his mother was a seamstress. He grew up in Union City, New Jersey, where he graduated from Union Hill High School.
After graduating with a B.A. from Saint Peter's College, he attended Rutgers School of Law-Newark in Newark, from which he obtained his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. He is a brother of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. He was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1980 and became a lawyer in private practice.
He married Jane Jacobsen, a teacher for the Union City Board of Education, and the couple had two children: Alicia, a graduate of Harvard University, and Robert, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Menendez and Jacobsen have since divorced.
During his free time, Robert Menendez helps out the future leaders of America. On the final day of the 2008 New Jersey American Legion Boys State, Robert Menendez was a prominent speaker.
Early political career
In 1973, at age 19, while attending Saint Peter's College in Jersey City, he launched a successful petition drive against his mentor, then-Union City Mayor William Musto, to reform the local school board. He was elected to the Union City Board of Education in 1974, and would later testify against Musto in a court case that resulted in a prison sentence for Musto.
Menendez was elected mayor of Union City in 1986 and served as mayor until 1992. While mayor, he simultaneously served in the New Jersey Legislature, a common practice for New Jersey politicians. He was in the General Assembly from 1987 until 1991 and in the New Jersey Senate from 1990 to 1993, following the death of Christopher Jackman.
United States House of Representatives
Menendez as a Congressman
In 1992, 14th District Congressman Frank Guarini retired after seven terms. Menendez won the Democratic nomination for the Jersey City-based district, which was renumbered the 13th after New Jersey lost a district in the 1990 Census, and was easily elected that November. The district was already heavily Democratic, but had been redrawn with a Hispanic majority after the 1990 census. He was reelected six times with no significant Republican opposition.
In 1996, Menendez was briefly a candidate in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring Bill Bradley, but he backed out and the seat was won by Democrat Robert Torricelli. In 2002 Menendez voted against the Iraq Resolution to authorize the invasion of Iraq.
In 2003, Menendez was elected chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, ranking him third in the Democratic hierarchy in the house, behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland. He was elected to chair the Credentials Committee of the 2004 Democratic National Convention and was a speaker on the first day of the convention. During the 107th Congress, he was chair of the Democratic Task Force on Education and the Democratic Task Force on Homeland Security.
Although he had sometimes been portrayed as the political boss of Hudson County, he strongly dislikes this appellation, particularly because, according to an anonymous close source quoted in the December 11, 2005 Union City Reporter, "there is no boss of Hudson County". Menendez is also seen as one leader in a fractured political establishment tenuously united by agreements that permitted the county to generate a significant vote for Corzine in the 2005 gubernatorial race.
United States Senate
Congressman Robert Menendez spoke on the importance of small businesses in the U.S. economy in Texas.
While several other names had been mentioned, Menendez was the early favorite among pundits for Governor-elect Corzine's replacement to fill the vacancy that would be created when Corzine resigned from the Senate. Corzine's decision to appoint Menendez got the support of several Latino groups, including the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
Menendez is the first member of a minority to represent New Jersey in the Senate, and only the sixth Hispanic to serve in that body. He joins Republican Mel Martinez of Florida (also of Cuban descent) as the only two Hispanics currently in the Senate. He is on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Budget and Energy and Natural Resources committees.
In February 2006, Menendez cosponsored legislation with New York Senator Hillary Clinton to make it illegal for foreign governments to buy U.S. port operations. The legislation was a direct response to Dubai Ports World's efforts to purchase Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) of the United Kingdom, which operates six major U. S. ports. Menendez said, "Our ports are the front lines of the war on terrorism. They are both vulnerable targets for attack and venues for smuggling and human trafficking. We wouldn't turn the Border Patrol or the Customs Service over to a foreign government, and we can't afford to turn our ports over to one either."
On September 28, 2006 Menendez voted for the Military Commissions Act.
On June 12, 2007, Menendez endorsed Hillary Clinton's presidential bid and was given the position of National Campaign Co-Chair. Subsequently he made numerous media appearances voicing his support for her campaign.
On April 25, 2008, a former undercover F.B.I. agent revealed in the book Ruse: Undercover with FBI Counterintelligence that Cuban diplomats approached Robert Eringer to investigate Menendez. It was suggested that the Cuban government was determined to generate scandalous information about the senator, along with Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, because of their anti-Cuban lobbyi