After taking a secret ballot vote Tuesday, Republicans in the Ohio House have decided to remove House Speaker Larry Householder as their leader in a floor vote on Thursday. But it’s unlikely that they’ll vote to expel Householder, who’s facing a federal racketeering charge related to the nuclear bailout he pushed last year.
The Republican vote, and discussion on how the caucus will fund House campaigns this fall, happened at a Columbus hotel near the Ohio Statehouse.
The five candidates who would like to replace Householder are state Reps. Bob Cupp (R-Lima), Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township), Craig Riedel (R-Defiance), Tim Ginter (R-Salem) and Jim Butler (R-Oakwood).
Butler is the second-in-command in the House as speaker pro tempore. He wanted to be speaker in 2014, when he ran against former speaker Cliff Rosenberger.
"I think we’re moving forward in resolving the issue that’s been plaguing the House now for a bit," Cupp said of Tuesday's secret vote. "I think members are ready to take decisive action to get it accomplished, so I think we’re all very unified in that."
Ohio House Republicans gather at a downtown Cols hotel to decide what to do about Speaker Larry Householder, who’s been charged w racketeering but hasn’t said if he’ll resign. They’ve voted by secret ballot to remove him. Official public vote likely Thursday in House chamber. pic.twitter.com/MfN1o71vlv
— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) July 28, 2020
Cupp would not confirm whether the vote was unanimous or give details on the vote breakdown.
Fifty votes would be needed to elect a new speaker. There are 61 House Republicans.
Householder was elected last year by 26 Republicans and 26 of the House’s 38 Democrats.
Democratic leadership wrote in a statement that Householder’s removal “should not have required so much debate and hand-wringing.” The statement also calls for an official vote "as soon as possible."
"And if the Republican House members refuse to do what’s right for Ohioans in a timely manner, we will call on the governor to clean up the mess his fellow [R]epublicans have made," the statement reads.
It would take a two-thirds vote to expel Householder, who is running unopposed in his re-election bid, from the legislature.
The vote is similar in process to the one in which Cliff Rosenberger was replaced in 2018, after he resigned because of an FBI investigation. So far that has not resulted in charges.
The winner needed a majority, but the caucus didn't seem to uniformly embrace Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) as Rosenberger's successor. For two months, legislation was stalled while a behind-the-scenes battle waged between Smith and Householder, who wasn't running at the time but hoped to become speaker in January 2019.
After 2.5 hours and 11 rounds of voting, Smith won the speaker's position in the short term, with Democrats voting for their own leader, state Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). A few months later, after the candidates he backed won in the 2018 fall election, Householder built a coalition with Democrats to secure enough votes to lead the House for the 133rd General Assembly.