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Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is running for governor.

Guadagno filed paperwork making her candidacy official Thursday with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, though a formal announcement event isn’t expected until next week.

Guadagno was on air Thursday morning with New Jersey 101.5 host Bill Spadea but didn't bring up her candidacy.

Guadagno enters the race as the likely favorite for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Three other Republicans have filed as candidates so far: Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers and Ocean County businessman Joseph Rullo.

But the Republicans enter 2017 as underdogs in the general election, given the unpopularity of Gov. Chris Christie, whose approval ratings are below 20 percent. Moreover, New Jersey hasn’t voted for the same party for governor in more than two consecutive elections in more than 50 years.

It won’t be easy for Guadagno to separate her political profile from Christie, given that the former Monmouth County sheriff has been Christie’s loyal lieutenant governor for seven years. In New Jersey, the lieutenant governor is elected on a ticket as a governor's running-mate, not separately.

Perhaps with that in mind, Guadagno has sought separation on some policy issues in recent months, telling New Jersey 101.5 morning host Bill Spadea that she opposed the recent nearly 23-cent a gallon hike in the gas tax, as well as a public question dedicating the funds to road and rail construction.

Guadagno is the state's first lieutenant governor. She was elected with Christie in 2009 and 2013.

As lieutenant governor she also runs New Jersey's Department of State and promoted business development. She's well known in the state's business community for her accessibility, regularly handing out her cell phone number.

Guadagno is an attorney who served as a federal prosecutor in New York and later moved to New Jersey where she served as Monmouth County sheriff.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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