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Cory Booker Is Calling for Menendez to Resign

New Jersey's other senator, Cory Booker, yesterday called for the indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign from the Senate now. He said: "Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost. Senator Menendez has made these sacrifices in the past to serve. And in this case he must do so again." Booker added that serving in the Senate requires senators to uphold moral standards higher than merely not being criminals.

Booker's call is especially painful to Menendez because there is no bad blood between them. Booker has often described Menendez as a friend, ally, and mentor. They have often worked together on legislation and have appeared together at hundreds of news conferences; each has vigorously defended the other to New Jersey voters. Even when Menendez was put on trial earlier for corruption charges, Booker stuck with him. For the junior senator to turn against his long-time senior colleague is significant.

At least six Democratic senators have called for Menendez to step down now. Booker's call may open the floodgates, as he understands New Jersey politics better than the senators from other states. If dozens of Democratic senators follow his lead and also call for Menendez to go, it will certainly ramp up the pressure on Menendez. But even if he resists, it will show the country that when a Democrat breaks the law, other Democrats want him out. Hey, Republicans, how do you feel about that concept?

Perhaps noteworthy is that when Al Franken was forced out, the other senator from Minnesota, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN), didn't call for him to leave. Now that Menendez' direct colleague from New Jersey wants him gone, that gives all the other senators permission to say the same thing as Booker. It should be interesting to see how many take up the invitation in the coming days. (V)

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