The Hudson County Democratic Organization’s challenge of 8th District congressional hopeful Brian Varela’s signatures will need at least a second day in court after roughly eight hours on a Zoom hearing today.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
New Jersey Office of Administrative Law Deputy Director and Assignment Judge Joann Candido heard the case, where the HCDO, in a complaint brought forward by Chair Amy DeGise, contends that Varela does not have enough valid signatures.
While he submitted 589, nearly triple the necessary 200 to get on the June 7th primary ballot, the local Dems challenged 422.
The overwhelming majority of the day, which began at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t end until 6:30 p.m., was spent with Jillian Barby, of the New Jersey Division of Elections, checking to see if each voter’s address and signature matched.
Steven Kleinman, an election lawyer from Cleary Giacobbe Alfieri Jacobs, LLC, is representing the HCDO and needed about an hour between 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. to tend to another case and requested a 6:30 p.m. stop time to serve as borough counsel at a municipal meeting.
Just before the court broke for the day, Kleinman gave a rough estimate that about 225 signatures had been tossed and about 15 survived.
A reoccurring problem for Varela, represented by Flavio Komuves of Weissman & Mintz LLC, was that a number of signatures were obtained from outside the district including Edgewater, Dover, Kenilworth, and Bloomfield, therefore the veracity of the signatures did not matter.
Candido agreed to end at 6:30 p.m. and said the parties would reconvene on Zoom again tomorrow at 8 a.m. and will likely at least run through the morning.
The HCDO has challenged the signatures of another Democratic congressional candidate in the 8th District, Rutgers law professor Eugene Mazo, whose hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday due to Varela’s unexpectedly long proceeding.
With U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) retiring, the HCDO was quick to back Rob Menendez, a lawyer, Port Authority commissioner, and the son of U.S Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
If they are successful in both instances, the race will still be a three-way dance, with Menendez facing opposition in David Ocampo Grajales and Ane Roseborough-Eberhard.
Varela wrote “Bring it on Hudson Dems” after this reporter tweeted about the case this morning.