Christie, others praise Kyrillos for nearly 30 years in Legislature

Gov. Chris Christie issued a statement Wednesday praising state Sen. Joe Kyrillos for his nearly 30 years in the state Legislature as both an assemblyman and senator.In somewhat of a surprise move Tuesday, the 56-year old Kyrillos (R-Middletown) announced that he will not seek re-election when his current term in the Senate expires in 2018.

“Joe Kyrillos has served the interests of his constituents and all the people of our state with great skill and passion for nearly three decades,” Christie said. “His decision not to seek re-election is obviously a personal one. I congratulate him on his years of service to our state and our party.”

Starting at the age of 27, Kyrillos served two terms in the Assembly, before being elected to the Senate in 1992.

“It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve the people of my district and the state of New Jersey in the Legislature,” said Kyrillos. “Ever since I was a kid growing up in Monmouth County, I’ve always believed that public service is an important and noble profession. I am truly fortunate to have had the ability to serve for so many years in the state Senate, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished on behalf of the people of New Jersey. And, of course, the frustrations of serving in the minority and the current political process are obvious.”

Though Kyrillos and Christie have been noted longtime friends, their relationship had been called into question in recent years as Christie overlooked Kyrillos in his appointment of an interim U.S. senator following the death of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Last year, Kyrillos announced he planned to back former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and not Christie, in his bid for the White House.

Colleagues from both sides of the aisle thanked Kyrillos on Wednesday for his service.

“Sen. Kyrillos represented the civility and respect that is desperately needed in politics today,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick. “I thank him for his service to our state and to our party and wish him only the best.”

“Over his 30 years in the Legislature, Sen. Kyrillos has served with integrity, intelligence, compassion and a willingness to work on a bipartisan basis to make Monmouth County and New Jersey a better place for all of us,” said state Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Fair Lawn). “I am proud to count Joe Kyrillos as a friend and have always valued his advice, his support and constructive criticism. I especially want to thank him for continuing to reach across the aisle during a time of growing polarization. We will miss him in the Senate, but I am confident he will continue to contribute his wisdom and expertise to help us continue to move New Jersey forward. I wish Joe and his family all the best in the next chapter of their lives.”

In 2012, Kyrillos unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate, losing to the incumbent Democrat, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez. He also unsuccessfully attempted to unseat U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) in 1992.

Kyrillos did note, however, that his exit will be from the state Legislature, not politics. He said he plans to “continue to play a role in public affairs in New Jersey and nationally.”

“While I won’t be on the ballot for any office in 2017, I don’t close the door on running for elected office or on another public role someday,” Kyrillos said.

Read the full article from NJ BIZ here.