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James Florio Former New Jersey Governor, Congressman Dead at 85

By metrostaff on
New Jersey

Former New Jersey Gov. James Florio,  died Sunday at the age of 85.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy confirmed Florio died in statements on Monday.

"Governor Florio was a fighter who never backed down. He was a leader who cared more about the future of New Jersey than his own political fortunes," Murphy said in a statement.

Florio was a longtime public servant who held numerous posts on the local, county, state and federal levels.

He made three runs for the governorship before finally succeeding in 1989.

Florio was criticized when he pushed a $2.8 billion tax increase through the state Legislature that extended a sales tax to, among other things, toilet paper in 1990.

Florio was ousted after one term by  Christie Whitman, who tapped into voter displeasure over the tax hike and won the race.

Before becoming governor, Florio served four years in the state Assembly and 15 years in the House of Representatives. In 2000, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Long after he left office, Florio continued to be a regular in the halls of the statehouse during legislative sessions.

In February 2015, Florio and three other former New Jersey governors urged the state senate to delay a vote for a southern New Jersey panel that oversees a million-acre pine reserve by a nominee of then Gov. Chris Christie.

The senate eventually approved the nominee for the job.