The Oroho Bombshell


Just a few weeks ago, I saw Steve Oroho at the reorganization meeting of the Morris County Board of Commissioners in Morristown.

Knowing that LD-24 had shifted a bit east, I observed that come 2024, he would be representing more of western Morris County. Given the fact some of the county’s leaders consider Morris a slice of heaven on earth, I assumed he’d be overjoyed to represent a wee bit more of Nirvana.

Oroho got the joke and laughed.

A few weeks later, he said he was staying out of a crowded race to fill the two open Assembly seats in LD-24. Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths previously announced they’re not seeking reelection and up to seven people are in the mix to replace them.

And now, Oroho is out of the mix completely.

The long-time state senator and current Minority Leader said Monday he is not seeking reelection.

“Circumstances have changed,” he said in a statement without elaboration.

And they certainly have.

So much so that Space, who apparently was set to retire, is now interested in the Senate seat.

Whether more candidates, including some now running for the Assembly, plunge into the Senate race remains to be seen.

What does seem apparent is that the LD-24 Assembly campaign has already taken on a nasty tone. And that may also be the case in a competitive Senate race.

Two of the candidates seeking Assembly nominations teamed up earlier this month. They are Dawn Fantasia, a Sussex Commissioner, and Michael Inganamort, the mayor of Chester Township.

It didn’t take long for the Fantasia-Inganamort team to be condemned by some on the right for alleged “wokeism.” Or more specifically, for supporting gay pride resolutions.

It is both unfortunate and instructive that government actions aimed at treating all people with respect are seen as a grave offense to the civilized world by some conservatives.

We have seen such outrage before and the sad thing is, it can work, at least in Republican primaries.

Oroho may have officially stayed out of the Assembly primary, but as long as he was seeking reelection himself, he would not really be out of it.

But now he will be. Oroho never seemed like a fierce ideologue. One recalls him a few years ago entertaining then-Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney, with whom he had a good relationship. on a boat tour of Lake Hopatcong. It would be no surprise if Oroho didn’t want to be dragged into – even indirectly – a nasty primary fight.

As he said, he’d rather be a good “pop pop.”

Of more real importance, of course, is the Senate itself. Let’s face it, Republicans are going to win LD-24 this fall no matter who the Assembly and Senate candidates are.

One source postulated Monday morning that Oroho will now dedicate all his political energy to trying to win GOP control of the Senate. That would take flipping five seats, which is a tall order.

There also is the matter of who replaces Oroho as Senate Republican leader next year with the immediate contestants being Anthony M. Bucco and Mike Testa. Ah, a North Jersey vs. South Jersey type of thing.

That competition, naturally, would be more meaningful if the Republicans do gain control of the Senate.

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