TRENTON - The New Jersey Assembly's top Republican leader has died at the Statehouse on the final day of the legislative session.

Seventy-five-year-old Alex DeCroce collapsed in a men's room around 11 p.m. last night.

Gov. Chris Christie issued a statement confirming DeCroce's death early this morning.

"I lost a dear friend, colleague, and mentor - Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce. I have known Alex for nearly 20 years. He helped to give me my start in elective politics in Morris County in 1993. He was one of the most kind, considerate, and trustworthy people I have ever had the pleasure to know. He was an enormously accomplished legislator and a tremendous servant to the people of New Jersey. Mary Pat and I offer our most heartfelt condolences to his wife, Department of Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner Betty Lou DeCroce, and to Alex's entire family. This is an enormous loss for our state and for me personally," the governor said.

The legislature is scaling back plans for today's reorganization and Christie is postponing his State-of-the-State speech. Instead, Christie is expected to talk about DeCroce.

DeCroce, of Parsippany-Troy Hills, served in the Assembly since 1989 and became the GOP's leader there in 2003. His district includes parts of Morris and Passaic counties.