Former 8th District congressional candidate Brian Varela loaned his campaign $595,000 before the Hudson County Democratic Organization succeeded in having him removed from the ballot last month.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Varela, who owns the North Bergen-based Varemar Digital Marketing firm, loaned himself $50,000 on February 17th, $300,000 on March 24th – following by an additional $170,000 on the same day – before finally chipping in $75,000 on March 28th, according to his 1st quarter report filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
He also received $37,094.01 in donations (putting his account at $632,206.10 total) and spent $32,316.48, with his biggest expenditure being $10,000 for political consulting from Lambertville-based CDM Media on March 24th.
The company is owned by James Devine, who is the partner of Lisa McCormack – who scored just under 38 percent of the vote against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez in 2018 and only got around 10 percent against U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) in 2020.
She also unsuccessfully ran for Union County Clerk in 2010, Rahway City Council in 2014, and Union County Surrogate in 2019 and ran a write-in campaign against Gov. Phil Murphy (D) after an administrative law judge tossed her from the ballot due to invalid petitions.
Varela suffered a similar fate in April, where the HCDO challenged his 589 petitions to be on the ballot, getting the majority – 422 – rejected, putting him at 181 valid signatures – 19 short of making the June 7th primary ballot.
Another candidate, Eugene Mazo, was also unable to withstand a petition challenge from the local Democratic party.
Rob Menendez, the frontrunner to succeed U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, and his father have been frequent targets of McCormick on social media, as well as on a political blog they run.
Since Varela was tossed from the contest, the duo has been encouraging 8th District voters to support 25-year-old progressive David Ocampo Grajales.
Weehawken High School teacher Ane Roseborough-Eberhard is also challenging for the seat in the Democratic primary, making it a three way dance.
According to their respective 1st Quarter FEC reports, Rob Menendez raised $839,257, Ocampo Grajales, raised $25,464, while Roseborough-Eberhard hasn’t filed yet.
The only 8th District congressional debate will be hosted by Hudson Media Group Friday at 6 p.m. with this reporter serving as the moderator.