— The first Republican to join the race to succeed Gov. Chris Christie has announced his 2017 candidacy.

Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (Somerset) on Tuesday declared his candidacy in Manville.

Ciattarelli will join Democrat Phil Murphy as the only two official candidates in the race. He has said, unlike Christie, he does not support Donald Trump.

The owner and publisher of Galen Publishing, Ciattarelli represents a district that includes Princeton. He's been in the Democrat-led Legislature since 2012.

He says he considers education a key issue and that the state has been heading in the wrong direction under Democrats and Republicans for decades.

Murphy, the Democrat, is a Monmouth County resident who had a career in financing with Goldman Sachs and was ambassador to Germany under president Obama.

Christie's term ends in Jan. 2018. The Republican and Democratic primaries are in June this year. The general election is in November.