By Dave Warner
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - New Jersey Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce collapsed and died in the statehouse after a late night legislative session, police said early on Tuesday.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie immediately postponed his scheduled state-of-the-state message to the legislature on Tuesday to mourn the unexpected death of DeCroce, 75, a longtime friend.
DeCroce collapsed at about 11:30 p.m. on Monday in the men's room of the statehouse in Trenton after the last legislative session of the day, New Jersey State Police said.
The state assembly's Republican leader had represented the northern New Jersey town of Parsippany at the statehouse in Trenton since 1989.
"I lost a dear friend, colleague and mentor," Christie said in a statement. "I have known Alex for nearly 20 years. He helped to give me my start in elective politics in Morris County in 1993," the governor said.
"He was one of the most kind, considerate and trustworthy people I have ever had the pleasure to know," he said.
DeCroce was a realtor at a firm that bore his name, ERA Gallo & DeCroce.
No new date was announced of Christie's speech.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Peter Bohan)