By Darryl R. Isherwood | October 6th, 2011 - 2:24pm
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Tinton Falls resident to challenge Menendez in primary
Tinton Falls resident Gwen Diakos will challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez in the June primary

The only Republican challenger that has yet emerged for the 2012 Senate race has already dropped his bid, but today U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez got himself a primary challenge.

Tinton Falls resident Gwen Diakos, a civilian defense contractor who is making her first run for public office, announced her primary candidacy Thursday.  Diakos said she believes that having been on the “inside” of government and having seen where the money is spent, she can help to eliminate wasteful spending. 

“I don’t think Menendez has done the job New Jerseyans deserve,” she said, adding that she’ll bring “integrity” to the office. “If Congress is going to appropriate money than we need to do a better job of making sure the money is spent well.”

Diakos said she’s earned the respect of the military through her work with the Army and Air Force and she’ll do the same for the people of New Jersey.

“I was dealing with the discrimination of being a woman, but also a woman who was attractive and I gained the respect of people who had two or more stars on their lapels.”

The primary election is set for June 5.

To date no candidate has formally declared to run for the Republican nomination.  Attorney Ian Linker was the only declared candidate but ended his candidacy last month.  State Sen. Michael Doherty is considering a run, as is state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, but neither has yet made his intentions known.

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson also has been reported to be considering a run for the GOP nomination and has been seen courting prominent Republicans at the Jets' new training facility in Florham Park.

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