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Former Congressman John Adler Dies at 51

U.S. House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- Former Rep. John Adler, D-New Jersey, died Monday at the age of 51 after contracting a staph infection in the tissue around his heart last month which resulted in endocarditis and led to emergency surgery.

Adler won office in 2008, but served only one term after narrowly losing his re-election campaign to former Philadelphia Eagles lineman Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., 50 percent to 47 percent.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who served as House Speaker during Adler’s two-year tenure in the House of Representatives, praised Adler in a statement Monday evening for a career in public service and for “giving back to his community, working to improve the lives of his neighbors, and building a better future for his children and for generations to come.”

“A son of small business owners and an attorney, Congressman Adler always put the people of New Jersey first.  On the Cherry Hill Township Council, he led the charge for ethics reform; in the State Senate, he fought for clean air, smoke-free communities, and the rights of all New Jersey voters.  He continued that work in Congress, voting to protect consumers and strengthen small businesses; and, in his first act as a Congressman, he authored a bill to strengthen the economic security of America’s seniors and veterans,” Pelosi, D-Calif., stated. “To the end, Congressman Adler remained a passionate, committed, principled advocate for his constituents, his state, and his country.  I express my deepest condolences to his wife, Shelley, and their four sons, and I hope it is a comfort to them that so many share in their grief at this difficult time.”

In a statement Monday evening, Runyan expressed his condolences over his former opponent’s death.

“I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of former Congressman John Adler, especially his wife Shelley and their four boys.   May John rest in peace, and may those he left behind be comforted in the knowledge that his lifetime of public service to our community has left a lasting legacy for which they can be most proud,” Runyan said. “I valued and respected his leadership and his commitment to the people of New Jersey’s Third District and indeed the entire state.”

Adler is survived by his wife, Shelley, and four sons.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

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