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Smith Supporters Accuse House Leadership of Playing Games Filling the Speakership

Among those calling for rule changes to allow Schuring (center) to remain in charge is Larry Householder, who wants to be speaker next year.

The fight over who will be the speaker of the Ohio House through the end of this year continues to take strange turns as members try to find a replacement for former House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger. He resigned in April amid an FBI investigation into his activities.

Finance Chair Ryan Smith wants to be the speaker through December as well as next year. He and 26 of his House colleagues, including Democrat Bernadine Kennedy Kent, say they want to vote on who will be speaker immediately.

“Let’s have a vote. Let’s have clarity. I’m a big boy. I can take it either way. But let’s go,” he said.

But acting Speaker Kirk Schuring has given all members until close of business Friday to vote on one of two plans to resolve this. Schuring says the House won’t be back in session until Tuesday, so he can’t call for a vote right now.  

But Rep. Mike Duffey, who backs Smith, says if the powers that be wanted that vote, it could happen.

“They could ask the (Ohio State) Highway Patrol to go collect all 99 members,” he said.

Duffey says Smith’s supporters are being denied access to the House’s legal counsel, so they can’t ask for an opinion. In a written statement, Rep. Larry Householder, who also wants to be speaker in January, is calling for lawmakers to make a rule change to allow Schuring to serve as speaker through the end of this year.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.