NJ GOP Leader Collapses, Dies at Statehouse
Chris Christie expected to eulogize Alex DeCroce today
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2012 8:03 AM CST
In an Aug. 16, 2004 file photo state Sen. Alex DeCroce, R-Morris, is seen during a news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton, NJ.   (AP Photo/Brian Branch-Price/file)

(Newser) – Minutes after taking part in the final voting session of New Jersey's 214th Legislature last night, Republican state Assembly leader Alex DeCroce collapsed in a Statehouse bathroom and died. The longtime assemblyman, 75, began representing Morris County in 1989, the Star-Ledger reports. He was attended to by a doctor and fellow assemblyman after the marathon legislative session, but nothing could be done.

"This is an enormous loss for our state and for me personally," said an emotional Gov. Chris Christie, who came to the Statehouse around midnight—he apparently rushed to get there, topping his Notre Dame T-shirt with a suit jacket. Sources say he will eulogize DeCroce during a scheduled 3pm speech today, rather than delivering his planned State of the State address. Scheduled swearing-in ceremonies for new Legislature members will also be scaled back, the AP notes. Christie, a friend of DeCroce's for two decades, said he had lost "a dear friend, colleague, and mentor."