Several Republican sources are saying that millionaire businessman Andrew Unanue, the former Chief Operating Officer of Goya Foods, is giving consideration to a bid for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination against Frank Lautenberg.
The 40-year-old Bergen County resident, whose family operates the largest Hispanic-owned foods company in the U.S., is an Employer Trustee for the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union Pension Fund, and has been raising money for presidential candidate John McCain.
He’s currently president of the financial firm Andy Unanue & Associates.
Unanue is said to be wealthy enough to self-finance his campaign – something that Republicans have been searching for in the wake of businesswoman Anne Estabrook’s departure from the race. Some Republicans are also hopeful that he can cut into Democrats' Hispanic base.
Unanue’s name surfaced before as a potential challenger to Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman in 2006. He was a delegate at the 2004 Republican National convention. That same year, he donated $25,000 to the Republican National Committee, $500 to the New Jersey Republican State Committee, and $2,000 to U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL). In 2000, he donated $1,000 to Rep. Xavier Becerra’s (D-CA) 2000 campaign, as well as $2,000 to the Leadership for Today and Tomorrow PAC, which supports mostly Democratic minority candidates. Last year, he donated $1,000 to Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign.
Another name still mentioned as a possible candidate is state Sen. Diane Allen, who is suffering from a severe case of pneumonia but is said to still be mulling a bid.
“They’re both fine individuals who, if interested, would make very good U.S. Senate candidates,” responded Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore when asked about the prospective candidacies.