May 24, 2012

THE PATH TO 60:

Red-Hued New Jersey? (Robert Costa, May 23, 2012, National Review)

A Fairleigh Dickinson poll released in May shows Menendez leading Kyrillos by nine points, 42 percent to 33 percent -- hardly a position of strength for an established senator. In the same poll, Menendez loses by seven points, 37 percent to 30 percent, against "someone else." Kyrillos, for his part, is unknown by 68 percent of voters. Once they get to know him, he predicts, he will rise. [...]

At the state level, Kyrillos chaired Romney's presidential campaign from 2007 to 2008, a time when most state politicos were supporting former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani for the nomination. He has remained close with Romney since then, working as a behind-the-scenes booster in Trenton. An appreciative Romney hosted a big-dollar fundraiser for Kyrillos in late April.

Christie considers Kyrillos, a former state-party chair, his right-hand man in the state legislature. Kyrillos chaired Christie's 2009 gubernatorial campaign and frequently moonlighted as a Christie surrogate and senior adviser. "No one gave us a chance," Kyrillos says. "But Chris's race proved that a Republican can win in New Jersey, even when you're outspent."

Soon after, during Christie's rough-and-tumble budget fights with Democrats in 2010 and 2011, Kyrillos became one of Christie's top allies in the capitol. Bringing the fiscally conservative Christie ethos to the Beltway will be the focus of Kyrillos's campaign. "I won't be afraid to cast tough votes and make the tough decisions," he says. "We've got to find a way to fix the country."

"It's not an ideological or political problem that we have," Kyrillos says. "It's a math problem." He argues that "practical" conservatism can win in New Jersey this year. "We need an intellectually honest budget," he adds, noting that he generally supports the GOP budget authored by Representative Paul Ryan. "If we do nothing, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid won't be there for the people who need them."

Kyrillos has been endorsed by Christie, who helped his friend rake in more than $600,000 at a March event. He must wait, however, until primary day, June 5, to become the party's official nominee. He faces a trio of unknown conservative activists in the primary: Bader Qarmout, Rudy Rullo, and David Brown. But thanks to his Christie ties and tea-party outreach, Kyrillos has largely been able to coast.

In mid-April, Kyrillos gave a rousing speech at a well-attended tea-party rally in Philadelphia. He was warmly introduced there by tea-party favorite Anna Little, who earlier this year briefly entered the Senate race. "In New Jersey, we stopped borrowing, we cut spending, and we didn't raise taxes," Kyrillos told the cheering crowd. "It's not complicated, but Barack Obama and my opponent do not get it."

Posted by at May 24, 2012 5:54 AM
  

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