MONTCLAIR - (AP) - New Jersey's two major-party U.S. Senate candidates have tussled over who's better for the middle class and whose policies on taxes and health care would do more to spur the economy.

Incumbent Democrat Robert Menendez and his Republican challenger, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, met Thursday in their first of three scheduled debates before the Nov. 6 election.

Menendez says he's helped Republican Gov. Chris Christie bring federal money to New Jersey.

Kyrillos says those things are the job of a senator and aren't something to brag about.

Christie says Kyrillos is perhaps his best friend in Trenton and says he'll appear at four campaign stops with him before the election. The race hasn't gotten much attention in the state, which hasn't elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate in decades.