Fresh off Tuesday’s primary victory, state Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr. (R-Middletown) said he would be visiting businesses across the state as he plans to make job creation a focus of his challenge to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken).
Kyrillos, who received 77 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, said he would use comments from business people in formulating a “jobs plan,” to be released after the tour. He said he plans to visit businesses of all sizes, as well as publicly and privately held firms.
“I want to really listen — not read the press releases and absorb the rhetoric that come from my opponent and others in Washington, D.C.,” Kyrillos said.
Kyrillos compared his Senate campaign to the gubernatorial race between Chris Christie and incumbent Jon S. Corzine, in which Kyrillos served as Christie’s campaign chairman.
“Can you imagine what the economy of New Jersey would be like if we hadn’t had some reform measures come into play — substantial, landmark ones, ones that are models for the rest of the country?” Kyrillos said.
He agreed with Christie that there is a “New Jersey comeback,” saying job creators are among those who view the state differently, thanks to changes under Christie. He suggested that changes he would pursue in the U.S. Senate would lead to an “American comeback.”
He pointed to increases in the national debt, unemployment rate and gasoline prices since Menendez joined the Senate.
Kyrillos said he would support expanding domestic energy sources, as well as expanding the Keystone XL pipeline.
Menendez’s campaign released a statement later on Wednesday, defending his record in Washington and criticizing Kyrillos’ record in Trenton.
Menendez “is fighting back to improve life for New Jersey’s middle class by focusing on issues that address the struggles we all face in this economy, like creating jobs, supporting New Jersey’s small business and our innovative life sciences and green energy sectors, and creating opportunity by focusing on bringing smart investments for our schools and communities,” said Michael Soliman, Menendez’s campaign manager.
Soliman said Kyrillos has taken the wrong side of Statehouse debates. “Joe Kyrillos hurts middle-class workers by favoring tax breaks to powerful companies that destroy jobs and ship them overseas,” he said in the statement.
While Kyrillos said details of the jobs plan would follow the tour, he listed several goals, including restoring fiscal responsibility, reforming the tax code, reducing regulations, building a competitive work force and restoring “America’s place as the home of innovation.” He emphasized the barriers that regulations present to launching new businesses.
Kyrillos said the tour will last through at least the month of June.