Republican state Sen. Joe Kyrillos  has won the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey and will square off this fall against Democrat Bob Menendez.

 

Kyrillos, of Monmouth County, easily defeated three little-known challengers Tuesday. Menendez faced no opposition for his party's nomination for a second six-year term in the U.S. Senate.

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Kyrillos began his general election campaign by calling Menendez a "mediocre senator" and saying New Jersey residents "deserve much better."

Menendez says he will continue to focus his efforts on trying to help the middle class. The senator, who was unopposed, wished Kyrillos well and called for the two to discuss their differences "in an honorable way."

The 58-year-old Menendez has a big head start in fundraising. But the 52-year-old Kyrillos could benefit from out-of-state GOP money if he can keep the race close through the summer.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)