The buzz among Republican insiders over the last two days is that party leaders seem genuinely excited by the prospects of millionaire businessman Andy Unanue entering the race for United States Senator. The former Chief Operating Officer of Goya Foods, one of the largest Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States, makes an interesting candidate: a self-funder who his 44 years younger than the incumbent and can compete for Latino votes.
A group of Republicans have been seeking another Senate candidate – preferably one who can raise money – since Anne Evans Estabrook dropped out following a minor stroke earlier this month. That movement, which saw candidates like State Sen. Christopher Bateman, former New Jersey Highway Authority Chairman Joseph Buckalew and former U.S. Marshal James Plousis mull and decline. The search for a new candidate accelerated earlier this week after former Ron Paul New Jersey campaign director Murray Sabrin won the Gloucester County GOP convention and then releases a 94-page nationalist manifesto authored by State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio seventeen years ago.
Pennacchio has the organization lines in Bergen, Passaic, Union, and Hunterdon counties, and the endorsement of GOP County Chairmen in open primary Morris and Warren counties. Sabrin has won only Gloucester. Organization endorsements are still up for grabs in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem, and Somerset counties; Sussex County does not have a line.
Footnote: if Unanue were to unseat Frank Lautenberg in November, New Jersey would become the first state in the nation with two Hispanic U.S. Senators.