New Jersey 101.5 video

TRENTON — State Sen. Ray Lesniak, a Democrat from Elizabeth, says he is running for governor after all because he's never backed down from a fight.

Lesniak unveiled his plan on Thursday after earlier deciding against a run.

He says he changed his mind because he "could not sit back" with the state's economy in poor shape.

He will battle for the Democratic nomination against well-funded Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, and Assemblyman John Wisniewski. Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli also is in the race.

On Friday, Lesniak told New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea Murphy's money initially scared him off from running. "I finally came to the determination I can do this by going directly to the people, which I always intended to do anyway,  I've never backed down from a fight and this is one fight worth fighting."

The fight, according to Lesniak, doesn't take a lot of money and cited Hillary Clinton outspending Donald Trump in the presidential election as an example of the fight goes beyond campaign spending. "Because of shows like yours, because of social media, I've been reaching out directly to the people on the issues," Lesniak told Spadea.

Lesniak said the core reason he decided to run was that as a senator he was able to affect change on a number of issues but cannot restructure and reform government unless he was elected governor

Making New Jersey affordable, controlling spending, giving citizens a voice and a vote on "major boards" like the Port Authority  are the first three things he told Spadea would be at the top of his to-do list if elected.

Lesniak, an attorney, has served in the Senate since 1983.

He says his top priority would be making New Jersey affordable.

His campaign begins as Murphy holds a strong position, with backing from county officials and labor unions. Murphy has also pledged $10 million of his own cash to his campaign.

The primary is in June.

Lesniak and Christie recently went back and forth over a legislative proposal that would allow Christie to profit off a book deal. That measure ultimately failed.

Christie called the lawmaker a "quack," "a lunatic" and "crazy."

Here are more times Lesniak made news on New Jersey 101.5:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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