State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24) is a student of history. He enjoyed seeing Hamilton and reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. If there’s a political documentary on, he’s watching it.
As he comes to the end of an unexpected political career – Oroho is not on a ballot today for the first time in two decades – he does so with this realization: They were so different from us.
“I don’t think human nature changes much,” he said. “They were passionate, we are passionate. And that’s OK.”
He jokes that he doesn’t in any way want to suggest that today’s political climate is the same as it was centuries ago.
“I would hope we would never come to a duel,” he joked.
If anything, he thinks today’s political climate might be softer.
“I think we get along a lot more than people realize,” he said. “We have differences, we definitely have differences – and it can get very emotional, and it can get very passionate. But I would say 90% of the 120 people in Trenton can sit down and talk.
“If we disagree, we try to work things out. And in the end, if you can’t agree, just don’t vote for the bill.”
This simplistic view may be one of the reasons Oroho was able to become the highest-ranking Republican in the Senate two decades after someone simply suggested he should join the economic development board in Franklin Township (the one in Sussex County). That led to a seat on the council and then the Assembly and then the Senate.
It’s a reason he said he would recommend any of his five kids and ten grandkids to go into politics.
“If they want to,” he said. “You just have to be involved in something.”
He did have a few warnings. Things, he said, are not exactly like they were in the Revolutionary era.
Oroho said his biggest concern involves social media.
“I worry about that aspect of it,” he said. “People, both politicians and voters, are brazen on it – especially at night. They’ll say things that, quite frankly, face to face you just wouldn’t say.
“The whole idea of, ‘Sleep on it,’ or, ‘Count to ten,’ before responding probably is a very good thing.”
Another good thing: Watching his grandkids play soccer and football – something he rarely got to do during fall campaign seasons. Not this year.
“I’ve seen more games now than I ever have – and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able,” he said.
Oroho has not slowed down. In fact, he’s in Chicago today – on a conference for his new job as a wealth management advisor for Mount Arlington-based Nisivoccia.
He doesn’t miss the daily drum of politics – or the toll it takes on your family. But he said he still intends to be around politics a bit, even after the lame duck session of the Legislature ends in January.
“I’ll be like the old penny that you can’t get rid of,” he said.
After all, it’s human nature.