In a margin even greater than U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez anticipated, the Hudson County Democrat has toppled GOP challenger Joe Kyrillos.
Kyrillos, a Monmouth County state senator, refused to concede with CNN and the Associated Press were calling the race for Menendez, but finally addressed a crowd gathered at Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville at about 10:20 p.m.
With 66 percent of the vote in, Menendez is leading Kyrillos 58 to 40 percent.
“We are outperforming in every county what we intended to do,” Menendez told a roomful of Democrats at The Heldrich in New Brunswick.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-Cliffside Park, took to the stage to congratulate Menendez.
“How’s it feel to be winners,” Lautenberg asked an energetic crowd. “We’re here to say how proud we are of Bob Menendez.”
Menendez thanked supporters saying he “couldn’t be more grateful for this extraordinary victory.”
He said he kept the campaign positive because he wanted to give voters someone they wanted to support, rather than a person to vote against.
“If our response to the storm has taught us anything it is that we are all in this together,” Menendez said to cheering supporters.
Kyrillos said he was fighting an uphill battle.
“Although we raised $5 million, we were significantly out-funded,” he said. “It’s made me a bigger fan of campaign finance reform.”
He also blamed the media, which noted throughout the campaign that Kyrillos was a little-known candidate.
“Press didn’t pay nearly enough attention to our efforts,” he said. “Perhaps they didn’t understand what our campaign was all about.”
Speaking to his supporters Kyrillos said, “On behalf of the entire Kyrillos family, thank you.”
He also offered “special congratulations” to Governor Christie, who was following the election results from the governor’s mansion in Princeton, for his support throughout the campaign and his leadership during and after Hurricane Sandy.
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