As early as Thursday, December 27th, Ohio House Republicans may vote to elect a new speaker as well as a new GOP caucus dean, following a dramatic schism from within the House leadership.
Normally, following an election, the GOP caucus dean calls for an informal meeting, a new speaker is voted on, and the leadership selection is finalized. However, GOP caucus dean Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) has declined to set a date.
On November 29th, he stated “There is growing demand among the caucus to hold a leadership vote. We are going to have a vote.” Since then he has made no public attempt to schedule or organize said vote.
From December 19th to 21st, outgoing Ohio Governor John Kasich vetoed three conservative-backed bills; A self-defense gun bill, a pay raise for elected officials, and a pro-life bill that would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected. Kasich did pass several other bills, including a ban on one of the most common second-trimester abortion procedures.
Many GOP lawmakers are hoping they can overturn the vetoes during the December 27th meeting, in addition to finalizing their leadership. However, a potential speaker would have to earn 50 of the 61 GOP caucus member votes. Many believe the Rep. Butler is delaying the vote is due to a lack of consensus among the caucus.
A faction of the GOP Caucus, is now openly accusing Rep. Butler of being derelict in his duty as GOP Caucus Dean. On December 21st, Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) officially called for a meeting and “Leadership Election,” on Thursday, December 27th.
Rep. Schuring and Butler are now engaged in a public disagreement on how to proceed. Schuring has stated that because Butler has “shown no intention” of proceeding and calling a vote, it is the Caucus’ obligation to call a vote regardless of Butler’s assent.
In response, Butler has informed the party that the only person who has the right to call for such a vote is the Caucus Dean. He maintains that no member of the caucus should feel obligated to attend as it would not be a sanctioned meeting.
Even if majority Republican legislators support Schuring’s decision, the proximity of the meeting to Christmas means that many legislators will be hard pressed to attend.
There is no official list of legislators confirmed to attend, nor is there a consensus on if a vote would be considered legitimate.
Regardless, the meeting is still scheduled and whatever caucus members do attend could set a key barometer as to whom the next speaker will be.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Jim Butler” by Popapop2. CC BY-SA 4.0.
Photo “Kirk Schuring” by Kirk Schuring.
Photo Background Photo “Ohio State Representatives” by Joshua Rothaas. CC BY 2.0.