Bob Franks, 58

Bob Franks, four-term congressman from N.J., dies at 58

Mr. Franks was fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
Mr. Franks was fiscally conservative and socially liberal. (2001 Photo/associated Press)
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Bob Franks, 58, who served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s as a Republican from northern New Jersey, died April 9 of cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

He was a powerful figure in New Jersey's resurgent Republican Party, and twice served as the state's GOP chairman and as a congressional campaign manager. He spent 14 years in the state legislature, as a protege of Gov. Thomas Kean, before being elected to Congress from New Jersey's 7th Congressional District in 1992.

Mr. Franks was fiscally conservative and socially liberal, favoring abortion rights. He was a member of the House Transportation Committee and supported overhauling campaign finance rules.

In 2000, Mr. Franks narrowly lost a race for the U.S. Senate against Jon S. Corzine, who heavily outspent his Republican opponent. Mr. Franks lost a bid for the Republican nomination for governor in 2001.

He then became director of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, a lobbying group for pharmaceutical and medical technology companies.

Robert Douglas Franks was born in Hackensack, N.J., and graduated from DePauw University in Indiana. He received a law degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1976, then returned to New Jersey to work as a political consultant.

He and Corzine eventually became good friends, and Mr. Franks became a frequent consultant to the Democratic senator, who later became New Jersey's governor.

Survivors include his wife, Fran Franks, and three daughters.

-- Matt Schudel


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