Stalemate continues at Ohio House over election of new Speaker

The Ohio House’s stalemate over finding a new speaker will continue into its second week, as lawmakers canceled another planned vote Wednesday amid uncertainty over whether Rep. Ryan Smith has the needed votes to win the job.

“I want to use the old carpenter’s axiom that you measure twice and cut once, so I need to have firm assurances that we’re there,” Speaker Pro Tempore Kirk Schuring told reporters Wednesday morning during a hastily convened conference call.

Schuring, a Canton Republican, said Smith is “less than a handful of votes” away from the 50-vote majority he needs in the 99-member House. He chided anti-Smith Republicans and House Democrats for “break[ing] with tradition” by refusing to support the Gallia County Republican by acclamation.

Session days on Wednesday and Thursday were canceled. Schuring said he wasn’t sure when a vote would be held.

The Ohio House has been unable to pass any bills since ex-Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned last month amid an FBI inquiry into his travel and spending habits. The FBI raided Rosenberger’s home and storage unit Wednesday morning, according to the Dayton Daily News, but Schuring said the decision to cancel the vote was unrelated to the raid.

The deadlock over electing a new speaker comes despite Republicans holding an overwhelming 65 of 99 House seats (if and when the House reconvenes this session, a 66th Republican will take over Rosenberger’s vacant House seat). During a House GOP caucus last week, 47 House Republicans indicated they were willing to support Smith to finish Rosenberger’s term through the end of the year. Since then, it’s unclear where Smith will be able to find the additional three GOP votes he needs to be elected without Democratic support.

Smith has already been fighting a months-long behind-the-scenes battle with Rep. Larry Householder to win a full term as speaker next session.

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