New York Nightclub Owner the Latest GOP Senate Candidate in New Jersey

03/24/2008 05:16 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Republicans desperately searching for someone to run against popular New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg appear to have come up with a new candidate today, and it's a novel choice: a New York nightclub owner who was fired from his last job and then sued by his own family members over "concerns about his professionalism."

Republicans have had trouble fielding legitimate candidates for the Senate across the country, and New Jersey has been no exception. The state and national GOP have made no secret that they're not happy with the two current candidates, State Senator Joe Pennachio and college professor Murray Sabrin, and have been actively recruiting someone else to join the field.

Enter Andy Unane, owner of the Aer Lounge in Manhattan, which New York magazine described as "complete with all the elitist trappings you'd expect from a meatpacking district club." Unane may have a difficult time explaining to the family-values Republican crowd his ownership of a nightclub renowned for hosting such events as the unveiling of "Miss FHM," but that's just the latest entry from his unconventional resume.

Prior to opening the New York nightclub, Unane was fired from his previous job as the Chief Operating Officer of Goya foods, the nation's largest Hispanic food company. And it wasn't just the run-of-the mill corporate dispute - Unane was actually fired by his own cousins, who in a subsequent lawsuit cited "concerns about his professionalism." In a painstakingly detailed decision issued by a court in Delaware upholding his firing, Unane and his father were cited for routinely ignoring the directives of the Goya board in running the company as if it were a personal fiefdom.

A nightclub owner in New York with a history of failed business dealings would seem like an odd choice for a U.S. Senate candidate from New Jersey, but then again, Republicans are desperate these days, and it appears that Unane has deep pockets to finance the race. For a Republican Party beset with fundraising woes, a demoralized base, and no clear message to offer voters, that may be enough. But it's going to take a lot more to convince New Jersey voters that he has any business serving as a United States Senator.