Half of Republican State Senators Were Appointed to the Ohio Senate


Of the 24 Republican-held seats in the Ohio Senate, half of them have been, or will shortly be, appointed.

Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) was appointed to the 22nd Senate District (SD) seat on February 1, 2011. He replaced Bob Gibbs who was elected to the United States Congress and could not fulfill his four-year term.

Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) was appointed December 5, 2017 following the resignation of former Sen. Cliff Hite. McColley was a state representative at the time.

The first appointment in 2019 was of Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green). Gavarone was appointed February 4. She replaced Randy Gardner who accepted the appointment to chancellor of higher education. Gavarone also came from the Ohio House.

Sen. Bill Coley (R-Liberty Township), who represents SD4, was appointed May 24, 2011. Coley replaced former Sen. Gary Cates who accepted the position as vice chancellor of the Board of Regents from then-Gov. John Kasich.

Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) was appointed to the Senate twice. The most recent was January 11, 2011 to fill the seat vacated by Jon Husted after he was elected to be Ohio’s secretary of state. Lehner’s first appointment was to fill the unexpired term of Jeff Jacobson who resigned in 2008. She was a state representative prior to her move to the Senate.

On January 1, 2017, Sen. Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) was appointed to the Ohio Senate to replace Shannon Jones. Jones left following her successful run for Warren County commissioner. Wilson was pulled from the private sector; he’s a retired banker.

Senate District 10 is also represented by a member who was first appointed. In January 2016, then-Sen. Chris Widener retired from public service before his Senate term expired. Senate Republicans replaced him with Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London) on February 23, 2016. Hackett had been serving as a state representative.

When former Sen. Tim Grendell was appointed to the Juvenile Court in Geauga County, his resignation from the Senate opened a position that was filled by the appointment of Sen. John Eklund (R-Munson Township) in November 2011. Eklund is another senator appointed from the private sector. An attorney, Eklund still serves as senior counsel at Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP.

Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) was just appointed to the Senate where he will serve in that position for the second time. Schaffer began his political career in the Ohio House where he served six years, then ran for Senate where he served a full eight years before being elected to the Ohio House again in 2015. On May 19, Schaffer replaced Brian Hill who had just been appointed in December to fill the unexpired term of Troy Balderson (R-OH-12) who was elected to Congress. Hill left April 3 to serve as CEO of an electric co-op.

Marysville State Sen. Dave Burke, a former House member, was appointed July 13, 2011 to fill the unexpired term of Karen Gillmor. He represents the 26th Senate District.

On Wednesday the Ohio Senate announced they are recommending former State Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson to fill the vacancy left by Joe Uecker. The Senate will vote to accept Johnson later this month. Uecker accepted a position with the Ohio Department of Transportation.


Earlier this week The Ohio Star wrote Sen. Lou Terhar (R-Green Township) is retiring early. Terhar earned his seat in the Senate through the election process, however he was appointed to his seat in the Ohio House of Representatives in September 2011 following the resignation of 30th District Representative Robert Mecklenborg, who was charged with a DUI. The replacement for Terhar will be the fourth appointment this year. State Rep. Lou Blessing (R-Colerain Township) has expressed interest.

The twelve Republican Senators who were not appointed to their seats are: Sens. Stephen Huffman (R-Tipp City), Matt Huffman (R-Lima), Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville), Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House), Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction), Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) and Michael Rulli (R-Salem).

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ohio Senate Floor” by John Beagle. CC BY 2.0.

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