TRENTON - (AP) - Republican leaders in northern New Jerseywill gather next week to decide who will fill the seat left vacantby the death of Assembly GOP leader Alex DeCroce.

And one of the candidates they will consider is his widow, BettyLou DeCroce.

Republican county committee members in the 26th legislativedistrict will hold a special convention Wednesday in MountainLakes. The district includes towns in Essex, Morris and Passaiccounties.

The 75-year-old DeCroce collapsed and died at the Statehouse onJan. 9, as the final day of the lame-duck legislative session wasdrawing to a close. He had been the assembly's top Republican since2003.

Betty Lou DeCroce announced her candidacy on Wednesday. LarryCasha, an attorney and former Kinnelon council president, also hassaid he would seek the seat.