Ohio GOP's Ryan Smith eyes speaker nod; timing questioned

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republicans appeared poised to elect former House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger's hand-picked successor to lead the scandal-scarred chamber through the end of the year. That is, if the vote is allowed to go forward.

Tuesday's vote on Rosenberger's replacement was added by the chamber's acting leader, President Pro Tem Kirk Schuring. Democrats are challenging the vote as improper, because House rules say only the speaker can add a day to the calendar.

Rosenberger resigned in April amid an FBI inquiry into his travel, lavish lifestyle and condo rental from a wealthy GOP donor.

The rules dispute could add another delay — albeit of just a day or two — to a process of replacing him that already has been rocky.

Republicans hit an impasse last week when none of the three candidates to fill Rosenberger's unexpired term could secure the 50 votes needed, even after hours of caucusing.

House spokesman Brad Miller said Monday that Republican state Rep. Ryan Smith, chair of the powerful Finance Committee, now has the necessary support.

"As was his full intention from the beginning, Speaker Pro Tempore Schuring is serving as the presiding officer of the House until he believes the House is ready to elect a new Speaker, an action that must occur before any legislation is voted on by the chamber," Miller said. "It is Rep. Schuring's understanding that the majority caucus's nominee has the required number of votes to proceed."

Smith, of Gallia, was vying for the position along with Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, of Marysville, and state Rep. Andy Thompson, of Marietta.

Both rival lawmakers pitched themselves as neutral placeholders who could restore normalcy and integrity to the chamber after Rosenberger's resignation and a string of bad headlines for the caucus related to sexual misconduct by members.

Rosenberger has said all of his actions were legal, but that he was resigning because the federal investigation would take time to resolve and could become a distraction.

Smith's ascension to the speakership now could position him handily in a brewing speaker fight for next session against state Rep. Larry Householder, who formerly led the chamber. Householder helped elect nearly a dozen candidates in this year's primaries who are expected to support him when the next speaker vote comes in January. Householder did not seek the interim post.

Jordan Plottner, a spokesman for House Democrats, said session days scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday are proper by House rules, but Tuesday's is not.

He said if a new speaker is elected Tuesday at an improper session it could call into question the rest of this session's actions — including the bills lawmakers pass.


Ohio House says vote to replace speaker on for Tuesday

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A vote to replace the Ohio House speaker who resigned last month amid questions by the FBI is on despite complaints by Democrats that it will be improper.

House spokesman Brad Miller said Republican Cliff Rosenberger's interim replacement will be picked Tuesday. House Democrats say acting House leader Kirk Schuring isn't eligible to add session days under a House rule that says only the speaker can do so.

Miller said that is superseded by a constitutional mandate that the House meet every five days.

The rules dispute adds to a process that's already been rocky. Republicans hit an impasse last week when none of the three candidates to fill Rosenberger's unexpired term could secure the 50 votes needed.

Miller says GOP Finance Chairman Ryan Smith now has the votes.