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Kyrillos Looks to Close Friend Christie for Campaign Boost

10-15-12

It’s been tough for Joe Kyrillos to get his name known this fall in his bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez in the U.S. Senate. So when Gov. Christie joined him this morning at the Princetonian Diner, it was the kind of media boost Kyrillos needs more of. As they worked the room for 20 minutes, one could almost forget that Kyrillos trails Menendez by 14 points in the latest Philadelphia Inquirer poll.

Kyrillos downplayed the poll results, using the 2009 gubernatorial race as an example. “The public polls had Chris behind as well, and I know that they’re close because I’m with people each and every day,” said Kyrillos.

And that wasn’t the only time he referenced the previous administration. In yesterday’s third and final debate, Kyrillos started linking Menendez to Jon Corzine. Christie has been doing the same thing in recent months, linking Trenton Democrats to the former governor. But it’s a new attack line for Kyrillos.

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“Do we want to have a Jon Corzine-Bob Menendez like strategy for America because we’ve tried that,” he said. “All the problems that have challenged New Jersey now challenge America. We had a preview here. States like ours — California, New Jersey — we saw it all, we saw that movie, and now it’s unfolding in a bigger screen. And so they’re going to say, do we want THAT?”

Christie has mainly done private fundraisers for Kyrillos to date, but said today he’ll do five more public appearances with his friend before election day. The Kyrillos campaign hopes an engaged Christie can shift the momentum a bit.

Wondering what effect he could have on the race, the governor said, “I just hope the effect that it has is that you guys show up. And if you show up and people are able to hear him, he’s gonna win.”

Christie is Kyrillos’s best asset at the moment.

“He’s the predicate for all of this,” said Kyrillos. “Without the governor winning here three years ago, proving that a Republican can win New Jersey, and proving that a Republican can govern New Jersey, turn things around, make New Jersey more competitive again, that’s the underpinning for this campaign.”

The governor was heard today introducing Kyrillos as his best friend. “I have known this guy for 20 years. I know what kind of United States senator he’ll be,” he said.

Kyrillos didn’t refrain from touting the relationship. “You know, it’s part of my title — Kyrillos, Christie friend,” he said humorously. “I love it, it’s great.”

A Kyrillos advisor tells NJ Today that among people who know both candidates, Kyrillos trails Menendez by just two points — which is why the Kyrillos camp thinks victory is still possible.

Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron reports from West Windsor.