ASBURY PARK – Joe Kyrillos was just out of college when he met the man who would become his longtime friend and ally, Sam Thompson.
It was 1982, and Kyrillos was serving as the field director for the congressional campaign of Assemblywoman Marie Sheehan Muhler.
Muhler was challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. James Howard.
“Joe was coordinating the whole campaign, and I was the campaign manager for the Middlesex portion of the Muhler campaign,” Thompson told InsiderNJ.
Muhler lost to Howard.
“It was a tough year for Republicans,” Kyrillos recalled in a conversation with InsiderNJ at state Senator Jen Beck’s (R-11) Stone Pony fundraiser. “Remember, that was the same year [Frank] Lautenberg beat Millicent Fenwick,” Kyrillos said.
In 1999, when Thompson gave up the chairmanship of the Middlesex GOP, he and his old friend would join forces again, this time on the LD13 ticket. They would remain running mates until 2011 redistricting, when Old Bridge realigned in a newly configured 12th, and Thompson went from the assembly to the senate.