Andy Unanue, who entered the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination on Sunday, lives in New York, according to a housekeeper who answered the phone at his parents’ home in Bergen County.
Voting records show Unanue listed at an Alpine residence. A search of tax records for that home, however, shows that it is owned by his parents, Joseph and Carmine Unanue. The housekeeper confirmed that the home does not belong to Andy Unanue and he does not live there.
Unanue does own a residence at 25 Central Park West in New York City.
Unanue's campaign said that, for all intents and purposes, Unanue lives with his parents.
"Andy Unanue lives in New Jersey, he votes in New Jersey, his car is registered in New Jersey, he pays New Jersey auto insurance, and his business is in New Jersey," said Unanue Campaign Manager Mark Duffy. "Andy Unanue is New Jersey.”
The millionaire Goya Foods heir, who was courted by Republican Party leaders to enter the race after Anne Evans Estabrook dropped out earlier this month, is one of three GOP candidates seeking to challenge four-term Democrat Frank Lautenberg.
George Ajjan, a spokesman for rival Republican candidate Murray Sabrin, said that influential Republicans, in their haste to find a new candidate, had failed to vet him properly.
“Perhaps the failed party bosses like Adam “big mouth, little ears” Puharic, should do a better job of vetting candidates before they try to ram a slick New York inhabiting nightclub owning playboy down the throats of the hard working Republican rank-and-file," he said.
State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, who's also running decided to hold off on commenting on the residency issue.
Candidates for the U.S. Senate are not required to live in the state they run from until Election Day. Hillary Clinton was not a New York state resident when she became a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2000.
A surrogate will represent Unanue, who's vacatioining in Vail, Colo., at Republican conventions tonight in Atlantic and Ocean Counties.
Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore, who has backed Unanue along with the rest of the county's screening committee, said that the informaiton does not change his stance and will probably not have an effect on tonight'sconvention vote.
“I am aware of the fact that there was a question of residence and requirements in how long a duration he had to have to run for U.S. Senate. It does not change my position nor do I think it will change the vote of county council tonight," he said.
Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis, who personally endorsed Unanue, could not be reached for comment.