BY TOM HESTER SR.
State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), a close friend of Gov. Chris Christie, announced Thursday he is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
If Kyrillos wins the nomination in the June primary election, he would face Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez in November on the same ballot that will feature the presidential candidates.
Kyrillos, 51, of Middletown, a leading Republican senator, moved to the upper house in 1992 after serving four years in the Assembly. He chaired the state Republican Party from 2001 to 2004. He is a commercial real estate broker.
Menendez, 58, of Hoboken, a lawyer by profession, is seeking his second six-year term.
“Our country is in trouble and Washington is failing us,” Kyrillos said. “Americans have seen their neighbors lose their jobs, their home values fall, their savings shrink, and their economic horizon darkened by a record $15 trillion national debt. Washington has responded with nothing but partisan squabbling and reckless spending, and now Bob Menendez is seeking reelection to deliver more of the same.
“New Jersey needs a strong voice for change,” the senator said. “As the father of two young children, I believe we can and must restore the limitless opportunities and freedom that made America great and inspired people like my own father to immigrate to this country. That's why today I converted my exploratory effort into a campaign committee and will soon formally announce my candidacy for the United States Senate.
“We have proven in New Jersey that strong leadership can change things for the better,” Kyrillos concluded.” Under Governor Christie’s leadership and with the support of fiscal conservatives like myself, we took a state that had been mismanaged to the brink of bankruptcy, and we turned it around. I intend to do the same in Washington. Voters have a clear contrast – Bob Menendez will offer more of the same: more debt, more spending and more joblessness. I will offer real solutions to renew America's promise.”
Kyrillos created an exploratory committee in June and is shaping his campaign staff.
When Christie became a Morris County freeholder in 1995, it was Kyrillos who swore him into office.
Former Highlands mayor and Monmouth County freeholder Anna Little, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th.) in November, also is preparing to seek the GOP U.S. Senate nomination.