GOP N.J. Sen. Kyrillos to Run for US Senate
New Jersey Sen. Joseph Kyrillos will seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to run against Sen. Bob Menendez in November.
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Sen. Joseph Kyrillos will seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to run against Sen. Bob Menendez in November.
Two people familiar with Kyrillos' plans told The Associated Press on Thursday the 51-year-old Monmouth County legislator is switching the federal exploratory committee he formed months ago to a campaign account, leaving no doubt about his intent to run.
The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made.
An announcement was expected soon. Kyrillos is a long-time friend of Gov. Chris Christie and has been the governor's closest GOP ally in the Legislature.
Kyrillos chaired Christie's successful 2009 campaign for governor and Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid in New Jersey. Christie and his wife were the match-makers for Kyrillos and his wife, Susan.
"Joe has been a good friend of mine for nearly 20 years, as has his wife, and they are wonderful people," Christie said. "New Jersey would be extraordinarily well-served if Joe Kyrillos wound up in the United States Senate."
A 24-year veteran of the New Jersey Legislature, Kyrillos would face an uphill battle against the better-known and well-financed Menendez, especially with President Obama at the top of the ticket.
First, he'll have to get through a GOP primary that could include Hunterdon County conservative Sen. Michael Doherty and Tea Partier Anna Little. Conservative Ian Linker is the only other declared Republican candidate so far.
Kyrillos formed a federal exploratory committee in June. At the time, he said he was exploring ways to serve the country beyond the New Jersey Legislature.
Menendez, the son of immigrants who grew up in Union City, has been in Washington since 1993, first in the House before moving up to Senate in 2006.
He is known as a fierce political competitor who came up through the rough-and-tumble world of Hudson County politics.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
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