A Republican New Jersey senator is planning to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.
While not making it official just yet, Sen. Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, said he intends to formally announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination soon.
Political analysts say he’ll face a tough battle because Menendez has millions of dollars for his re-election campaign.
And Kyrillos does not have strong statewide name recognition, according to Peter Woolley, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“That will make it harder for him to raise money,” said Woolley.
Kyrillos does have a powerful advantage, he added.
“The one advantage he has that’s for sure is that Chris Christie is on his side. He’s a friend of Chris Christie and, of course, Chris Christie can raise money for Joe Kyrillos,” Woolley said.
Montclair State political science professor Brigid Harrison also said she expects Kyrillos will benefit from his strong allegiances with Christie.
“The gambit here is that Chris Christie’s personality, his fundraising prowess, will be vested into this close ally who was a key member of his campaign, a key member of his transition team,” Harrison said.
Still, Kyrillos faces a daunting historical trend. The last time a Republican defeated an incumbent Democrat in a U.S. Senate race in New Jersey was in 1942.