Brian Varela, a former aide to Gov. Chris Christie, has announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 8th district where Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) is retiring.
Varela worked in Christie’s communications and press shop during his first year as governor in 2010.
He is now the owner of a North Bergen-based digital marketing and web development firm.
The front-runner to succeed Sires is Robert J. Menendez, an attorney and Port Authority commissioner who has secured Democratic organization endorsements in Hudson and Union counties.
The son of U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, he’s won the backing of Phil Murphy, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Senate President Nicholas Scutari, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, Union City Mayor/State Sen. Brian P. Stack and North Bergen Mayor/State Sen. Nicholas Sacco.
“Brian knows he faces a great challenge, where party leaders have already chosen a candidate to fill the seat,” Varela’s campaign said in a statement. “That is not how Democracy is supposed to work. The people should be able to choose the candidate they feel best represents them, not one chosen for them.”
He now joins David Ocampo as Menendez’s opponents.
Ricardo Rojas dropped his congressional bid in February. Rojas had managed Hector Oseguera’s primary challenge to Sires in 2020.
Sires announced in December that he would not seek re-election to the seat he’s held since 2006.