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Historic Speaker Vote Expected as New Legislative Session Begins in Columbus

Ohio Statehouse
Statehouse News Bureau
The new session of the Ohio Legislature begins Monday, January 7th.

The GOP-dominated state legislature starts a new two-year session Monday, and the vote for House Speaker could be unprecedented. It’s usually a unanimous formality, but the battle between two Republicans has allowed Democrats to come into the vote with surprising power.


Photos of Rep. Ryan Smith and Rep. Larry Householder
Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell), left, and Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) are in a battle to become the next speaker of the Ohio House.

In a private meeting Friday, 20 of 38 House Democrats said they’d back former speaker Larry Householder over current Speaker Ryan Smith.

Eight indicated they’d vote for Smith, who’s been speaker since June, when he beat two Householder supporters and minority leader Fred Strahorn to replace former speaker Cliff Rosenberger.

Unions that support Householder had been urging Democrats to back him.

Smith won 34 votes in a Republican caucus meeting last month - that’s a majority of the 60 member caucus, but most if not all of the 26 absent members are thought to be favoring Householder.

As in June, voting goes on till someone gets 50 votes or, in the 11th round, a plurality. Neither candidate has 50 sure votes. One Democrat says the vote is likely to be historic.