TOMS RIVER – The powerful Ocean County Republican Committee unanimously backed state Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13) for United States Senate tonight at the organization’s meeting, and the newly minted candidate promptly slammed incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) as an MIA senator.
Beckoned to the front of the room at the Holiday Inn by Ocean County Committee Chairman George Gilmore, Kyrillos hailed the organization, political apparatus of the biggest concentration of Republicans in the state.
“You have had some genuinely demonstrable success in recent years,” the state senator said under sparkling chandeliers. “I am so proud to have stood with you for our great Republican Governor, Gov. Chris Christie. We are turning this state around. We have proven it can be done. We’re doing it without tax increases. We’re rolling out economic incentives to the private sector.
“Trenton is a model for state capitals around the country,” Kyrillos added. “There is much more to do. But what has been done here, we need to duplicate in Washington, D.C. We are so concerned. Twenty million Americans are out of work or underemployed. We understand what’s at stake with this election. Our leaders in Washington are genetically incapable, perhaps, of making hard decisions. My opponent Bob Menendez, I doubt very many of you have seen him. Has anyone seen him? Has anyone heard from him? Does anyone understand his accomplishments? They don’t exist.”
Kyrillos said Menendez has at best been a bystander.
“When the Congress is dysfunctional, we don’t hear from here,” said the GOP challenger, who said he would work to repeal Obamacare, repair the nation’s debt crisis, and attack gasoline prices.
Kyrillos focused on a common early campaign theme: Menendez’s relative lack of name ID, promising to be a different kind of Republican statewide candidate who will blunt the notion that Democrats can serve here as a kind of birthright.
“Stick with me, ladies and gentlemen,” Kyrillos said. “Stick with this crusade and let’s take back the seat.”
Three people screened with the committee: Joe Rullo, Professor Bader Qarmout, and Kyrillos.
“The committee did recommend for U.S. Senate Senator Joe Kyrillos,” said Freeholder Jack Kelly, who chaired the screening committee.
Competing against two unknowns, Kyrillos has taken the time to go to the different committee conventions as he gears up for a run against Menendez.
During his two minutes at the microphone prior to Kyrillos’ speech, Rullo said he wants to act as a “New Jersey diploma” to the world, in part by deporting undocumented workers.
“I will stop Obama and Menendez-care,” Rullo promised.
For his part, Qarmout told the roomful of county committee members, “I am running to protect and defend American freedom and democracy.”
Gilmore enthusiastically endorsed Kyrillos.
“The one thing all the Senate candidates agreed on is that Menendez must go,” said Gilmore, denouncing the incumbent as a key vote in favor of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform.
“We need a fiscal conservative in Washington,” the chairman added. “Although Menendez doesn’t share our concerns about the country, we need to change that. When we looked around, Joe Kyrillos stood out. He’s a fiscal conservative who never voted in favor of a tax increase.”
The veteran chairman noted Kyrillos’ strong fundraising campaign.
“A lot of key people in the Bush administration are watching this race,” said Gilmore. “Believe it or not, people are beginning to talk about the Menendez race as an opportunity to take control of the U.S. Senate.”