John Adler had a fight on his hands in 2010 against then-challenger and now-U.S. Congressman Jon Runyan (R-NJ3) for his U.S. House seat. He ultimately lost that electoral battle and went back to private life. A life that was relatively quiet and private until recently. Some might have expected Adler to potentially challenge for his seat again in 2012 or potentially become involved again in the State Legislature. At the same time, it looked like he was throughly enjoying his less chaotic life at his law office, Greenberg Traurig.
Unfortunately,on Monday, Adler lost his life due to complications from an infection he obtained after he underwent emergency open heart surgery in March.
Governor Chris Christie provided the following statement in the wake of Adler’s death:
“Congressman Adler was a fine public servant and a good person. His untimely death is an awful shock. Mary Pat and I will be praying for his wife Shelley and their four sons during this sad and tragic time.”
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) also provided:
“We lost a great person today”
As did Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) with:
“Congressman Adler was a true example of what it means to serve the people. No matter what office he held, the Congressman always advocated fiercely for his constituents and those whose voices otherwise wouldn’t have been heard. He was always at the forefront of the key issues of the day, whether it be ethics, education, a clean environment, public health or property tax reform. His passing is a tragic loss for our state, but his legacy of intelligent and classy leadership will not be forgotten. Every time we breath clean air at a restaurant, for instance, we can thank John Adler. On behalf of the New Jersey General Assembly, I offer my prayers and condolences to Congressman Adler’s family and friends at their time of grief.”
Before running for the U.S. House seat in NJ-3, Adler served New Jersey’s 6th District in the state Senate from 1992 to 2009. Adler benefited from the Democratic energy in 2008 as it was the only time that a Democrat has won a race in that district going back well over one hundred years. That might have been partly due to the fighter mentality of Adler and his ability to work middle of the road voters, who can assist a Democrat in a district that probably tilts slightly towards the Republican Party.
State Senate Republican Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr, a colleague of Adler’s like Sweeney, also offered:
“I want to extend my deepest condolences to John’s wife, Shelley, their four boys, and the entire Adler family. John was smart, passionate, energetic, and dedicated throughout his long career in public service. He was a friend to all of us in the Senate and a living reminder that it is possible to disagree with one another without being disagreeable. New Jersey is a better place having been served by John Adler. He will be missed.”
It was almost fitting for a man, who at times bucked his party and lived on the fence of both parties, that he was the only Democrat back in 1991 to defeat an incumbent Republican and would follow that with a similar impressive victory in 2008 in a district that had not voted Democratic in well over 50 U.S. House election cycles. Additionally, he lost to Jim Saxton in 1990 in a race for Saxton’s U.S. Congressional seat, but would gain Saxton’s seat eighteen years later when Saxton retired.
One of his legacies during his time in the State Legislature, which included a tenure as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was the requirement for public establishments to be smoke free.
President Obama on this sad day provided his comments as well:
“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the premature passing of former Congressman John Adler today. John was a dedicated public servant who fought tirelessly for the people of New Jersey for more than two decades. John always stood by his principles, and served with an unwavering energy for the causes he believed in: creating jobs, providing tax relief for New Jersey families and standing up for seniors and veterans. Our hearts and prayers go out to John’s wife Shelley and his sons Jeffrey, Alex, Andrew and Oliver. John was taken from us far too soon, and he will be greatly missed.”
Adler spent his early life under less than ideal conditions with the death of father and the loss of his mother’s business, which forced his mother and himself to collect Social Security. For that reason, Adler would fight for those on Social Security and always remembered and recalled his personal experiences. Those early years provided a backbone for his commitment to service. It was a commitment that spanned two decades at the state and national level for residents of New Jersey. It was a life that many will agree still had many chapters to be written.