Varela removed from ballot in 8th District congressional race after successful HCDO challenge


Brian Varela has been removed from the ballot in the 8th District congressional race after a successful challenge from the Hudson County Democratic Organization took nearly two full days in court.

Twitter photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“I wanted to start off by announcing that I will be withdrawing my candidacy for Congress in the 8th District … I will be back and I will be coming back stronger. This is not my last day in this field to make a difference in this world,” Varela said minutes ago after the court determined he had submitted 181 valid signatures, 19 below the threshold to get on the June 7th primary ballot.

He also thanked the court, counsel for both sides, and the press for their professionalism and their due diligence in the matter.

Since yesterday at 9:30 a.m., the court allocated about 16-and-a-half hours, not including the occasional recesses, to hear the HCDO’s challenge of the majority of Varela’s signatures – 422 out of 589.

When it was all said and done, their counsel in the matter, Steven Kleinman, with assistance from New Jersey Division of Elections official Jillian Barby, was able to prove the vast majority were from outside the district, not registered Democrats, or did not have matching signatures.

New Jersey Office of Administrative Law Deputy Director and Assignment Judge Joann Candido presided over the case and was actually supposed to have off today, but reconvened the proceeding this morning at 8 a.m.

HCDO spokesman Phil Swibinski said this evening that the challenge was about ensuring a fair primary 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,” he said.

“Ballot petition signatures are required by state law to be from Democratic or unaffiliated voters registered in the district, and we must be able to ensure that these requirements are met for each candidate in the race. It’s a simple issue of following the law, and we are glad that Mr. Varela has decided to abide by the court’s ruling and withdrawn from the race.”

The 8th District race now has four Democrats running Rob Menendez, a lawyer, Port Authority commissioner, and the son of U.S. Senator Rob Menendez (D-NJ), Rutgers law professor Eugene Mazo – who is also facing a petition challenge – Weehawken teacher Ane Roseborough-Eberhard, and progressive David Ocampo Grajales.


Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from Hudson County Democratic Organization spokesman Phil Swibinski.

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/hcvcp/public_html/wp-content/themes/Hudson County View/includes/wp_booster/td_block.php on line 353