Republican leaders in northern New Jersey will gather next week to decide who will fill the seat left vacant by the death of Assembly GOP leader Alex DeCroce.

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

Republican county committee members in the 26th legislative district will hold a special convention Wednesday in Mountain Lakes. The district includes towns in Essex, Morris and Passaic counties.

The 75-year-old DeCroce collapsed and died at the Statehouse on Jan. 9, as the final day of the lame-duck legislative session as drawing to a close. He had been the assembly's top Republican since 2003.

Betty Lou DeCroce announced her candidacy on Wednesday. Larry Casha, an attorney and former Kinnelon council president, also has said he would seek the seat.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)