75-year-old Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce collapsed and died at the State House on January 9, as the final day of the lame-duck legislative session was drawing to a close. He had been the assembly’s top Republican since 2003. Alex’s widow, Betty Lou DeCroce tells Republican leaders that she wants to fill the 26th legislative district seat left vacant by the passing of her husband.

In a letter to the GOP chairmen of Morris, Essex and Passaic Counties, which all have towns in the 26th district, Mrs. DeCroce wrote, “As I reflected on all of these things in the days following his death, I made the decision, in consultation with my family, close friends and encouragement from Republicans across the district, to follow Alex’s example of public service and seek the opportunity to run for the state Assembly vacancy in the 26th Legislative District.”