Brian Varela, a former Chris Christie staffer and the CEO of a marketing farm, has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District of New Jersey, becoming the latest person to bid for the Hudson County-based seat.
A Hudson County resident, Varela had served as an intern in Christie’s administration in 2010 in the communication and press office. He is currently the founder and CEO of Varemar Digital Marketing, a marketing firm based in North Bergen.
“He has known since he was a teen that his destiny was to make a difference, to create a better world,” read his press release. “He is ready to move into that role.”
Varela is bidding for the open seat after the current incumbent, Rep. Albio Sires, a Democrat, announced that he would retire when his term ends in 2023. He has positioned himself as an anti-establishment candidate, touting positions such as universal health care, childcare, and education reform.
“Brian knows he faces a great challenge, where party leaders have already chosen a candidate to fill the seat,” read the release. “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.”
“In this new post-pandemic world, people have lost jobs, homes and we are seeing a mental health crisis like no other. We need leaders who can navigate these difficult times, restore constituents’ faith in government and remind them of how resilient Americans can be.”
Since Sires announced his retirement, a number of people have entered the race to succeed him, including Robert Menendez Jr., the son of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, and progressive candidate David Ocampo Grajales.
Progressive organizer Ricardo Rojas had planned to run for the Democratic nomination, but withdrew from the race about two weeks ago, saying that “the runway is too short; that success is not a logistical possibility.”
The Democratic primary will take place on June 7. As the 8th Congressional District is a heavily Democratic leaning seat, whoever wins the primary is the likely favorite to win in the general election in November.