Space to run for state Senate after Oroho drops out

WANTAGE. Assemblyman Parker Space, who was not seeking re-election, jumps into the race for an open Senate seat in District 24.

| 30 Jan 2023 | 02:39

Two weeks after announcing his bid for re-election, state Sen. Steven Oroho said “circumstances have changed” and he will not seek re-election.

After Oroho’s statement Monday morning, Jan. 30, Assemblyman Parker Space of Wantage said he would run for the open Senate seat in District 24.

Space and Assemblyman Hal Wirths previously had said they were not seeking re-election to the two Assembly seats in District 24.

On Monday, Oroho said, “I’ve made a personally difficult decision that I will not be a candidate for re-election. However, I am comfortable that I am making the right decision for my family and me.”

He said there were a number of personal reasons for the decision “that I will mainly keep private.”

“It was a difficult decision, however, one particular thought that kept gnawing at me was the commitment of completing a four-year term. If I cannot readily commit to completing the whole term, it’s not fair to the voters and inappropriate for me to run.

“It’s time for me to be a more attentive Pop Pop.”

Oroho, 64, who became the Senate Republican leader last year, said he has been reflecting on his life “with the recent passing of the new year, our family celebrating the birth of our 10th grandchild” while recovering from a recent illness.

‘Big shoes to fill’

Space, who joined the Assembly in 2013, said he was sorry to learn that Oroho decided not to run.

“I respect his decision as I know it must not have been an easy one. Steve has enormous respect in Trenton and throughout District 24, and especially our home county of Sussex. He leaves very big shoes to fill.”

He decided to run because the district would have no continuity of service with he, Wirths and Oroho retiring.

“I know the tremendous service that our joint district office provides to the residents of the district and I think it’s very important for that to continue,” said Space, a farmer and owner of Space Farms Zoo & Museum. His family has farmed in Sussex County for eight generations.

“I very much look forward to the campaign ahead and continuing to fight for the residents of Sussex, Morris and Warren counties in District 24 as well as property taxpayers throughout New Jersey.

“Governor Murphy and Trenton Democrats have pursued a very progressive agenda that has made life more expensive for New Jerseyans, trampled on the rights of parents to make the best educational decisions for their children, usurped the constitutional rights of Second Amendment supporters, passed extreme abortion measures that allow for abortion up until birth and slammed businesses with their excessive lockdowns which I especially relate to as a small-business owner myself. State residents deserve much better and I’m going to work hard to demonstrate to the voters how putting Republicans in charge in Trenton will be a real difference-maker.”

Space was a Sussex County freeholder from 2010 to 2013 and a Wantage Township committeeman from 2004 to 2009, serving as mayor for three years.

‘Proud of service’

Oroho was elected to the Senate in 2008. He previously was a member of the Franklin Borough Council and the Sussex County Board of Freeholders.

“I am very proud of my service in the state Legislature and what I have worked to accomplish. Although admittedly frustrated at being in the minority, I felt I was still able to work collaboratively to effect positive outcomes for my constituents and state residents alike. There are many issues I wish I could have pushed further along, but I’ll leave knowing I was persistent and always tried my best.”

He promised to continue to work for a Republican majority in the Legislature.

“If we are ultimately successful, that will be an accomplishment for me to cherish. If we come up short, then it will naturally be time for someone else to take up the task.”

Oroho recalled that when he first ran for the Senate, he expected to serve no more than 10 years “mainly because I believed in some sort of term limits.”

“Having now served in different legislative roles, I have come to appreciate and understand that the opportunities and strategic knowledge that comes with legislative experience is very valuable.

“I am also fully aware that no one elected official is indispensable, and many talented individuals are ready to take up the mantle when given the opportunity.”

Wirth said he was sad to hear Oroho’s decision.

“Our district and state was very well served by his knowledge, commitment and steadfast ability to get things accomplished. Steve was fair and would work with anyone who shared an interest on any given subject.

“No one was more skilled on budgetary issues and from a good government perspective, our state will miss not having his eyes on state budget matters come next year.”

“If I cannot readily commit to completing the whole term, it’s not fair to the voters and inappropriate for me to run.” - state Sen. Steven Oroho