New Jersey Governor Chris Christie visited the West 22 Diner in Springfield to endorse his friend and fellow Republican Joe Kyrillos in the state senator’s bid to unseat U.S. Senator Robert Menendez.
In his endorsement, Christie said Kyrillos was a Republican who could be true to conservative values and still be able to reach across the aisle for bipartisan efforts.
Kyrillos has represented the 13th Legislative District in the state senate since 1992. A former State Assemblyman, Kyrillos unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1992. He was Christie’s campaign chairman for his 2009 Gubernatorial race. In addition to being a key political supporter of the Governor, Kyrillos has been a personal friend of the Governor’s for just under 20 years; Christie introduced Kyrillos to his wife. He emphasized his connection to Christie in his Springfield appearance.
“The thing I’m most proud of is my leadership in helping making Governor Christie our governor,” Kyrillos told the crowd at the Springfield diner.
Political commentators have predicted Kyrillos will have an uphill battle to the Senate. He has to fend off Tea Party-associated declared candidate former Monmouth County Freeholder Anna Little and other potential candidates. Kyrillos would face Menendez during a presidential election, where state Democrats are likely to head to the polls in support of President Obama and vote Democrat down the line.
A number of prominent local politicians were on-hand for the announcement, including Springfield Mayor Ziad Shehady and State Senator Thomas Kean, Jr., who lost to Menendez in a hard fought race in 2006.
Kyrillos emphasized he was confident matching up against the incumbent Democrat. He drew a parallel with this race and Christie’s successful match-up against Jon Corzine.
“Bob Menendez is not the politician people think he is,” Kyrillos said, adding that Menendez’s “significant weaknesses” would become apparent in the course of the campaign.
In a statement to the Huffington Post, a representative of Menendez’s campaign characterized Kyrillos as a “long-time Trenton insider” who “sides with corporations and special interests over working families and seniors, and panders to the most extreme elements of the Washington Republicans."