MOUNTAIN LAKES, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Republicans have picked the widow of Assembly GOP leader Alex DeCroce to fill the seat left vacant by his sudden death.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney On The Story

BettyLou DeCroce easily defeated attorney Larry Casha during a GOP county committee meeting in Mountain Lakes on Wednesday night.

She must resign from the state Community Affairs Department. She also must win the Republican nomination during the June primary and prevail in the November election to finish serving the two-year term.

Her 75-year-old husband collapsed and died at the statehouse in Trenton following a marathon session on Jan. 9. Police say his death was heart-related.

Alex DeCroce joined the State Assembly in 1989 and had been the Republican minority leader since 2003. He was known not only as a tireless leader for the people of New Jersey, but as a kind, trustworthy and considerate person.

Republicans elected Assemblyman Jon Bramnick of Westfield as the new leader in the New Jersey Assembly on Jan. 17.

He says BettyLou already has plenty of experience serving.

“As a town clerk, she had to know about local government. So, she has a terrific resume as councilwoman and as a clerk. But, in addition she follows in her husband’s tradition, which is really being and honest and sincere public servant,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney on Thursday.

BettyLou will have to resign her position at the state Community Affairs Department.

The 26th District includes towns in Essex, Morris and Passaic counties.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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