Ex-New Jersey Congressman Franks Dies at Age 58

Posted April 10, 2010 at 2:27pm

Former Rep. Bob Franks (R-N.J.), who ran unsuccessfully for Senate and governor, died late Friday night in a New York hospital, his family announced Saturday. He was 58.

Frank was being treated for an aggressive form of cancer, according to Republican strategist Mike DuHaime, a former aide who is acting as a spokesman for the family.

Franks represented a central New Jersey district in Congress from 1993 to 2001, and was narrowly defeated in the 2000 Senate race by Jon Corzine (D), who spent more than $60 million of his own money on the race. The two later became friendly, and Corzine in a statement Saturday called his former rival “one of a kind — smart, compassionate, and principled.”

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Franks in a stint as party chairman helped rebuild the New Jersey GOP after Democrat Jim Florio was elected governor in 1989.

After losing the Senate race to Corzine, he ran for governor in 2001, but lost the Republican primary to a more conservative candidate.

Most recently, he was the head of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey.

“Bob’s love of New Jersey and of our country resulted in a meaningful life dedicated to public service, as a state assemblyman, United States congressman, state party chairman and finally as an advocate for affordable quality health care for all,” DuHaime said in a statement. “His generosity of time, care for others and boundless spirit inspired a generation of those in public life. While his passing deeply saddens all who knew him, we have been so enriched by having had him in our lives.”

Freshman Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), a moderate in the Franks mold who now represents Franks’ old district, said in a statement, “Bob was a good friend, trusted colleague and mentor who dedicated his entire public life to making New Jersey a better place for all of its residents. My wife Heidi and I send our thoughts and prayers to Bob’s wife Fran and their three beautiful daughters Kelly, Sara and Abigail.”