One day after Steve Oroho’s surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election this year, Anthony M. Bucco appears to have secured the votes to become the next Republican leader of the New Jersey State Senate, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Bucco’s most likely challenger, Michael Testa, Jr. (R-Vineland), has decided not to become a candidate and will back Bucco.
“I want to focus on being the Cumberland County Republican chairman. We have a chance to go 7-0 this year, with two county constitutional officers up, as well as my own re-election and the re-election of Assemblymen Erik Simonsen and Antwan McClellan,” Testa said. “I’m going to support Bucco.”
The 60-year-old Morris County Republican moved quickly on Monday to shore up support to succeed Oroho, who will retire after sixteen years in the Senate. Bucco has the votes to become the next minority leader, or Senate President if Republicans score enough upset victories under a more favorable map to win the majority.
A conservative Republican, Bucco won re-election in 2021 with endorsements from police, firefighters, and teachers’ unions, as well as the New Jersey AFL-CIO and building trades.
Bucco is the favorite, although Senate math could change before the Republican caucus meets after the November general election.
Oroho had announced his candidacy for a sixth term in the Senate but changed his mind over the weekend. He leaves with strong support from his caucus and would have coasted to re-election.
When he ran for the Senate in 2007, he said he intended to serve ten years. A new term that expires in January 2028 would have extended that self-imposed limit.
Bucco was elected to the State Assembly in 2009 and was the number two member of the GOP leadership when he moved up to the Senate in 2019 following the unexpected passing of his father, State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-Boonton).
He is the favorite to win re-election this fall against Democrat Christine Clarke.