Former NJ Rep. Franks dies at 58

(AP) - Robert D. Franks, a longtime New Jerseypolitical leader who served four terms in Congress and led aresurgence of the state Republican party in the early 1990s, hasdied. He was 58.

Franks died late Friday night at Memorial Sloan-Kettering CancerCenter in Manhattan, said Mike DuHaime, his former aide. He hadrecently been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, butfurther details were not disclosed.

Franks first gained prominence in the state Assembly, where herepresented Union County for 14 years. He then captured the 7thCongressional district seat in 1992, serving four terms beforeseeking a U.S. Senate seat in 2000, a race he narrowly lost toDemocrat Jon Corzine despite being far outspent by his millionairerival.

A two-time GOP state chairman, Franks unsuccessfully sought theparty's gubernatorial nomination in 2001, losing out to then-JerseyCity Mayor Bret Schundler. In recent years, Franks had led theHealth Care Institute of New Jersey.

Franks had been deeply involved in politics since his youth,serving as state chairman of the New Jersey Teenage Republicans.After graduating from college, he played key roles in GOPgubernatorial and congressional before winning an open Assemblyseat in 1979, which he held until he won his first House term.

During his second stint as state GOP chairman, Franks usedwidespread voter discontent with Gov. Jim Florio's tax hikeproposals to lead his party to veto-proof majorities in both housesof the Legislature.

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