State Senator Joe Kyrillos has very little statewide name recognition and he’s a Republican in a Democrat dominated state, but he has his eyes on a very big prize.

Today, Kyrillos will officially announce that he’s running for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez, an entrenched politician, a prolific fundraiser and an ally of President Barack Obama.

Kyrillos hopes the unemployed, those fighting to make ends meet and others who may be thinking about voting for Menendez will ask themselves, “Do they want more of the same? What they’ll get is more of the same. Why would we ever want more of the same?”

“People in Washington have failed us,” explains Kyrillos. “Washington is fundamentally broken and if we want to change it we’ve got to change Senators.”

Kyrillos has a message for the people of New Jersey. He says, “Look at this new guy. He’s got a good, strong record in the State Senate and has been working hard to reform New Jersey and turn it around and that’s what we’ve got to do in Washington, D.C. now.”

The year was 1942. New Jersey Republican Albert W. Hawkes defeated incumbent U.S. Senator William H. Smathers, a Democrat. You may be asking, who cares or who are those guys or why does it even matter. Well, that was the last time a GOP candidate unseated a Democratic U.S. Senator in New Jersey.

That 70-year drought may give many GOP hopefuls pause, but Kyrillos says he’s up to the fight. If he survives a primary, Kyrillos will go head-to-head with Menendez.

“Kyrillos has an uphill battle,” says Fairleigh Dickinson University political science professor Peter Woolley. “He’s way behind in name recognition. 4 out of 5 New Jersey voters have heard of Bob Menendez. 4 out of 5 New Jersey voters have never heard of Joe Kyrillos.”

Woolley says Menendez also wins the registration battle. He explains, “There are simply more Democratic sympathizers in New Jersey than there are Republicans.”

Menendez is also running for re-election in the same cycle as President Barack Obama who could work for or against him. Woolley says, “If the economy is recovering and if Obama’s image is recovering then Menendez is going to benefit from that.”

It’s not all bad news for Kyrillos. Woolley points out, “He does have some help and that help will come from Trenton. He’s a friend of (Governor) Chris Christie and Chris Christie is a phenomenal fundraiser. He’s going to help Joe become better known statewide and he’s going to help Joe raise the dough.”

In an emailed statement last week, Kyrillos said, “New Jersey needs a strong voice for change. As the father of two young children, I believe we can and must restore the limitless opportunities and freedom that made America great and inspired people like my own father to immigrate to this country.”

“Joe has been a good friend of mine for nearly 20 years, as has his wife, and they are wonderful people,” says Christie. “New Jersey would be extraordinarily well-served if Joe Kyrillos wound up in the United States Senate.”

Menendez shot back with a statement of his own in which he said, “New Jersey’s voters will have a very clear choice if Senator Kyrillos becomes the Republican nominee- Senator Bob Menendez who fights every day for middle class New Jersey families or long-time Trenton insider Joe Kyrillos- who sides with corporations and special interests over working families and seniors and panders to the most extreme elements of the Washington Republicans.”‘

A 24-year veteran of the New Jersey Legislature, Kyrillos would face an uphill battle against the better-known and well-financed Menendez, especially with President Obama at the top of the ticket. First, he’ll have to get through a GOP primary that could include Hunterdon County conservative Sen. Michael Doherty and Tea Partier Anna Little. Conservative Ian Linker is the only other declared Republican candidate so far.

Menendez defeats two of the possible Republican challengers in hypothetical match-ups. He beats State Senator Joe Kyrillos by 43%-31%, and conservative Anna Little by the exact same margin, 43%-31% according to the most recent statewide poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Public-Mind.