James Florio was a prominent member of the political scene in New Jersey for many years. A Democrat, he would hold public offices at the local, state and federal levels. Environmentalism and gun safety were hallmark concerns of his during the course of his political career, indicates The Hill.

But by and large, Florio's legacy in politics has been defined by policies regarding taxes and education funding. And for many, they would not remember his policies fondly. But Florio would become viewed as something of an elder statesman as time went on.

And many who may still be critical of financial implementations have been mourning his passing.

Died from heart failure

James Florio passed away at a hospital in Voorhees Township, New Jersey; not far from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He died on September 25, the news was confirmed the following day by current New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

Florio's first elected office was as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly. He won a seat in the Assembly in 1969, 1971 and 1973. Previously, he had been a staffer for Assemblyman John J. Horn.

In 1974, Florio won a seat in the United States House of Representatives from the 1st District of New Jersey. He defeated Republican incumbent John E. Hunt. Florio went on to be re-elected to the House seven times.

During his time in Congress, Florio was chairman of a pair of subcommittees. One was what was then the Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Competitiveness Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The other was the Housing and Consumer Interests Subcommittee of the now-defunct House Permanent Select Committee on Aging.

He also, along with Nebraska U.S. Senator J. James Exon, crafted the Exon-Florio Amendment, enacted in 1988. The law allows the U.S. president to block foreign investments that are considered a potential threat to national security.

Ran for governor a total of four times

Florio's first gubernatorial run came when he challenged incumbent Governor Brendan Byrne in 1977 Democratic primary.

The sizable field also included U.S. Representative Robert A. Roe. Future chairman of the House Committees on Science, Space, and Technology and on Public Works and Transportation. In the end, Byrne won the primary and later the general election. While Florio finished in fourth place.

His second-go-round came in the 1981 cycle. This time, Florio handily won the Democratic nomination, with Roe as his closest competitor. But would narrowly lose the general election to the Republican nominee, New Jersey General Assembly Speaker Thomas Kean.

In 1989, James Florio finally achieved success in his pursuit of the New Jersey governorship. After dominating the Democratic primary, he won the general election in a landslide over Republican U.S.

Representative Jim Courter.

But it wouldn't be long before things went sour. In an attempt to combat a significant projected deficit, Florio carried out a historically massive tax increase. As indicated by ABC, the the sales tax on toilet paper was particularly unpopular. The budget would be balanced, but the negative impact elsewhere would be a steep hill to overcome.

The new taxes also generated more money for education. But how the Florio administration opted to use the money would be near-disastrous. The total education was re-directed to almost exclusively fund urban and rural districts. Suburban districts lost nearly the entirety of their state funds. At the same time, they were also expected to assume the cost of pensions and other benefits.

In his 1993 re-election bid, Florio was defeated by the Republican nominee, Christine Todd Whitman. Whitman was a politician in Somerset County, New Jersey; part of the New York City metro area. She'd also presided over the state public utilities board and later served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

In 2000, Florio made a run for the Democratic nomination for a United States Senate seat. Longtime incumbent Senator Frank Lautenberg, also a Democrat, was not running for re-election. Florio fell well short of former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine for the nod. Corzine would win the general election and later also became governor.

Was a native New Yorker

James Florio was born in New York City.

He would graduate from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. Afterward, he obtained a degree in social studies from what is now The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township.

Florio then studied at Columbia University before graduating from Rutgers School of Law-Camden. Along the way, he served for several years in the United States Navy. Ultimately retiring with the rank of lieutenant commander.