Mel Evans, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2010 file photo, New Jersey Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos, R-Middletown, sits in the Senate Chambers at the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Kyrillos will seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to run against Sen. Bob Menendez in November 2012. Two people familiar with Kyrillos' plans told The Associated Press on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, the 51-year-old Monmouth County legislator is switching the federal exploratory committee he formed months ago to a campaign account, leaving no doubt about his intent to run.

TRENTON, N.J. — TRENTON, N.J. — State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (KIR'-ill-ohs) will seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to run against incumbent Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The 51-year-old Monmouth County legislator says he converted his federal exploratory committee to a campaign account on Thursday and will formally announce his candidacy soon.

Kyrillos is a long-time friend of Gov. Chris Christie.

The 24-year veteran of the New Jersey Legislature would face a better-known and well-financed opponent if he wins the GOP primary.

Menendez, 58, served out Jon Corzine's term in the Senate before being elected to his own full term in 2006.