Ohio House Republicans May Finally Vote To End Speaker Battle

Dec 25, 2018

House leadership is saying a vote is scheduled for Thursday. But the current dean of the GOP caucus says there won't be a vote until he calls it.

When the Ohio House comes back Thursday to possibly vote on overriding Gov. John Kasich's vetoes, Republicans may also take their long-awaited informal vote for speaker.

The second-in-command in the House, Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), set a closed-door meeting that's being called a leadership vote. Schuring supports current Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), as does Rep. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon), a longtime Republican lawmaker who was recently re-appointed to a vacant seat in the House.

Hoops sent out a letter last week, saying he's asked twice for a vote for speaker but caucus dean Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) wouldn't call for it. So Hoops said the caucus should vote for both a new dean and speaker next week. Butler supports former speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), who wants to unseat Smith.

House leadership says the position of dean "is not enshrined in state law", and because the current dean "has no intention of following precedent" and scheduling a speaker vote soon after the election, so it makes sense for the caucus to come together for this important conversation.

But Butler is pushing back, saying Schuring and others are free to, in his words, "hold whatever campaign event they wish to support Ryan Smith". But Butler says only he can call for a meeting of the caucus, and that any claim that a meeting called by Schuring or anyone else is a legitimate caucus is fake.

There is a tentative House session scheduled for Thursday, and lawmakers have been told for weeks to prepare to be there. But it is two days after Christmas, so there's a chance some legislators might not be able to make it.

Speaker Pro Tem Schuring said in a text message that calls are being made, but there's no official count yet on how many lawmakers will be at the Statehouse Thursday. But even if all members aren't there, a vote would indicate which candidate for speaker has more support in the caucus.