By Jim Melwert

By Jim Melwert

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – The top ranking Republican leader in the New Jersey Assembly collapsed and died late last night in the Statehouse.

Assemblyman Alex DeCroce collapsed in a men’s room in the Statehouse around 11 p.m. last night, just minutes after the final vote of a long day marking the end of the legislative session.

Assemblyman Herb Conaway who is a doctor, attended to DeCroce at the scene, but it was too late.

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DeCroce’s death has state officials reorganizing plans for today’s start of the new legislative session. Governor Chris Christie is postponing his State of the State address, he’ll instead visit the Assembly to deliver remarks about DeCroce. Christie calls DeCroce a friend and mentor and says DeCroce gave him his start in elective politics back in 1993.

State officials say the Assembly reorganization, which was to be held at noon at the War memorial has been cancelled. They’re telling friends and family who were planning to attend the event to stay home. Instead, there will be a brief informal swearing in as required by state law in the assembly chamber.

DeCroce had served in the assembly since 1989, and was the Republican leader of the state’s lower house since 2003. His district includes part of Morris and Passaic Counties.

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