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Ryan Smith Tapped As Ohio House Speaker, Opponents Dispute Vote

Andy Chow
House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) talks to reporters.

After a contentious leadership battle, the Ohio House Republicans have held a vote to re-elect Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) as House Speaker for the 133rd General Assembly. But the merits of the vote have been called into question.

Representatives have been requesting Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), dean of the caucus, to hold a vote for a new speaker. Rep. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon), sent a letter earlier this month, saying he's asked twice for Butler to call for a vote.

But it was Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), the speaker pro tempore, who called for the meeting to take a vote on leadership.

Butler responded with a written statement saying, “Any claim that a meeting called by Rep. Schuring or someone else is a legitimate caucus of the 133rd General Assembly is false.”

Butler said, “Rep. Schuring, who will not even be a member of the caucus next year, recently attempted to call an informal Speaker vote two days after Christmas when many new members will not be able to attend. Deciding on whether and when to call vote is my duty as Dean of the majority caucus.

“The position of dean is not enshrined in the Ohio constitution or in state law,” said Brad Miller, Ohio House Majority Caucus spokesperson. “It is a position that can be voted on by the caucus and that exists due to the consent of a majority of the caucus, based on long-standing precedent.”

Miller added that Butler has shown no intention of continuing the precedent of calling on a speaker vote which is typically done shortly after the November election. He said the meeting was called by Schuring since most current and future members planned to be in Columbus at the time.

This is the latest chapter in a long, drawn out fight between Smith and his main challenger Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford).

The dispute led to Household running his own House candidates in primaries in May against fellow Republicans who would have supported Smith.

The saga continued when former House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger stepped down amid an FBI inquiry.

That vacant seat essentially stopped the House from legislating for nearly two months as the House Republicans fought over who should take Rosenberger’s place. The choice was between Smith and Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta), who was seen as Householder’s proxy.

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