The June 7th primary ballot drawing in Hudson County tomorrow will be for three congressional candidates in the 8th District after the local Democratic party prevailed in two legal challenges yesterday.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Brian Varela, who scored an early endorsement from Forward Party founder and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, withdrew his candidacy yesterday after the Hudson County Democratic Organization had proven in court he did not have the 200 valid signatures to make the ballot.
Despite submitting 589 signatures, the HCDO, through election lawyer Steven Kleinman, challenged 422 and the vast majority were rejected by New Jersey Office of Administrative Law Deputy Director and Assignment Judge Joann Candido.
Rutgers law professor Eugene Mazo, who received a paltry 7.1 percent of the vote in the 10th District congressional race in June 2020, also faced an HCDO challenge after submitting just 221 signatures.
While he initially made an intriguing argument that the HCDO and Chair Amy DeGise violated federal election law by spending well over the threshold on election challenges on Kleinman, who put in over 16 hours of work on the Varela case, as the New Jersey Globe reported.
However, he ultimately dropped out of the race after it became clear that Kleinman would be able to disqualify over 21 signatures.
In a statement released last night specifically referencing the Varela challenge, HCDO spokesman Phil Swibinski said this was about ensuring a fair election.
“All petition challenges are based on ensuring the fair representation of Hudson County Democratic voters in the primary for the Eighth Congressional District and protecting the integrity of the process.”
Rob Menendez, a lawyer, Port Authority commissioner, and the son of the U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), is heavily favored with the endorsements of the Hudson, Union, and Essex County Democrats – along with Gov. Phil Murphy.
Nevertheless, he will still compete against Weehawken teacher Ane Roseborough-Eberhard and progressive David Ocampo Grajales for the open seat, with U.S. Rep. Albio Sires not seeking re-election.
With the legal challenges in the rear view, the Hudson County Clerk’s Office will do the primary ballot drawing tomorrow at 3 p.m.