A day after Republicans gathered to figure out the next speaker of the Ohio House, there’s still no word on who that might be. GOP state lawmakers met for hours at a downtown hotel on Tuesday but left without making a decision, cancelling a House session scheduled for Wednesday.
House Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring says the 65-member caucus needs to provide 50 votes for one person to serve as the speaker for the rest of this calendar year. Finance Committee Chair Ryan Smith led the vote total, but there’s a problem getting consensus needed from the rest of the caucus.
“We asked for a show of hands of who could not vote for the nominee on the floor,” Schuring said. “And that’s where we are at right now. We’re real close to the 50 but we are not there yet but we are close enough that we can get there. And again, I just need to sit down with others and figure out what that pathway might be.”
Fifty votes represents a majority of the 99-member House, and Republicans control 66 seats.
Smith and former Speaker Larry Householder have been angling for the Speaker position next year, as Republicans look to replace Cliff Rosenberger, who resigned last month amid reports of an FBI inquiry about his travel and relationships with lobbyists.
Smith is Rosenberger’s chosen successor. State Reps. Dorothy Pelanda and Andy Thompson, who are not able to run again, pitched themselselves as neutral placeholder candidates who could restore normalcy to the chamber.
Speakers hold powerful sway over which bills are advanced into law in the state and which ones die unceremonious deaths.
Last week’s primaries were a bitter proxy fight between Smith and Householder, with Householder successfully advancing a host of candidates friendly to him over those backed by the Smith-controlled House Republican campaign committee.
Schuring said he wasn’t surprised by the impasse. He said Rosenberger’s resignation midway through the year opened up uncharted territory, and could not say when Republicans would reconvene.
Wednesday’s session of the Ohio House was canceled after Tuesday’s meeting. Fifteen bills were scheduled for a vote, including payday lending reform.