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Primary Results Highlight Politicking For Ohio House Speaker's Spot

Statehouse News Bureau

Tuesday’s primary election could  impact on who gets selected next week to be Speaker of the Ohio House. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles explains.  

Even before former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned in April amid questions about an FBI inquiry that involved him, there were two candidates who wanted to be the next speaker. On one side….Finance Committee Chair Ryan Smith, who was backed by Rosenberger and the powerful House Republican caucus. On the other side….Larry Householder, a former speaker who returned to the legislature in 2016 after a 12 year hiatus. In 11 open primary GOP house races Tuesday, there was a candidate backed by Smith and the caucus and another backed by Householder. And in ten of them, the candidate backed by Householder won. It doesn’t surprise Matt Borges, former Ohio Republican Party chair and a member of Householder’s team more than a decade ago.  

“I’ve seen this act before. Larry Householder effectively stormed the castle about 18 years ago. I watched him and in many cases helped him do that all those years back and he hasn’t changed. He’s still a machine. And his political operation in Tuesday’s primary was incredibly impressive.”    

Borges says Tuesday’s wins will make an impression on lawmakers when they consider who to elect leader of House Republicans Tuesday.  

That’s a very powerful message then to send to the remainder of the current caucus to say hey, it’s going to be me come January so maybe you might want to think about getting on board now.”  

Whoever will win the speakership will need some support from the minority party. And one representative who won’t be on board is Democrat David Leland. He says it’s too early to decide leadership now, especially since lawmakers don’t have answers to questions that caused Rosenberger to resign.  

What were the priorities? What were the decisions being made? What were the issues that led to this resignation, this scandalous resignation? We don’t know and we don’t know who was involved and so some people would like to sweep this under the rug and have an election and say ‘hey nothing really happened.’ I think the people of Ohio deserve to know the truth and deserve to know what really came down.”  

Leland wants the House to allow current Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring to continue in that role on a temporary basis while lawmakers push for more information about issues that have arisen during the FBI inquiry that could involve additional house members. Besides, Leland says, there’s no guarantee the Householder candidates are still going to be in the mix come January of next year.  

Those people who got elected for Team Householder still have to win the election in November and so if they don’t win in November, the fact that they won primaries on May 8th is irrelevant. So we are hoping the Democrats will win a number of those seats and we will have new Democratic members in the House.”  

Democrats would need to win 17 seats to take control of the House, and that seems unlikely. But big wins by Democrats in November could affect the ease by which Republicans could pass items on their agenda. As for the upcoming Speaker election, the House could decide to elect someone as a short term speaker to get through the end of this year. Or lawmakers could elect a speaker who intends to continue the role in 2019. 

The Statehouse News Bureau was founded in 1980 to provide educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations. To this day, the Bureau remains the only broadcast outlet dedicated to in-depth coverage of state government news and topics of statewide interest. The Bureau is funded througheTech Ohio, and is managed by ideastream. The reporters at the Bureau follow the concerns of the citizens and voters of Ohio, as well as the actions of the Governor, the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Supreme Court, and other elected officials. We strive to cover statehouse news, government issues, Ohio politics, and concerns of business, culture and the arts with balance and fairness, and work to present diverse voices and points of view from the Statehouse and throughout Ohio. The three award-winning journalists at the bureau have more than 60 combined years of radio and television experience. They can be heard on National Public Radio and are regular contributors to Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace. Every weekday, the Statehouse News Bureau produces in-depth news reports forOhio's public radio stations. Those stories are also available on this website, either on the front page or in our archives. Weekly, the Statehouse News Bureau produces a television show from our studios in the Statehouse. The State of Ohio is an unique blend of news, interviews, talk and analysis, and is broadcast on Ohio's public television stations. The Statehouse News Bureau also produces special programming throughout the year, including the Governor's annual State of the State address to the Ohio General Assembly and a five-part year-end review.
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