Ohio House Elects Bob Cupp As Speaker After Householder's Removal

State Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) was elected the Speaker of the Ohio House following the removal of Larry Householder.
State Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) was elected the Speaker of the Ohio House following the removal of Larry Householder. [Ohio House]

State Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) will take over as Ohio House Speaker following the removal of Larry Householder

The Ohio House reconvened Thursday afternoon to conduct the vote. Cupp, a former Ohio state senator and Ohio Supreme Court justice, was nominated for the position by state Rep. Timothy Ginter (R-Salem).

"I've come to recognize that Rep. Bob Cupp, in the midst of all types of situations, is a man, is a statesman, is an individual that handles himself with integrity and character," Ginter said.

The vote was 55-38, with most Ohio Democrats and several Republicans voted against Cupp. However, no other candidate was put up for the position.

Cupp was then sworn into the role by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judi French.

"It is a great privilege to lead this chamber," Cupp said in an address to the chamber. "Sorry it is in such difficult and trying and unprecedented times as this, however, but I pledge to do so honorably and fairly and humbly."

Gov. Mike DeWine congratulated Cupp in a statement, calling him a "man of integrity who will serve Ohio well."

Thursday's decision comes just hours after the Ohio House unanimously voted to oust Householder, who is charged in a $60 million racketeering conspiracy. Householder was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday morning.

It marked the first time in Ohio history that the House has voted to unseat its leader. However, Householder retains his place in the legislature, and is running unopposed for reelection this fall.

Before the vote for a new Speaker, state Rep. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma) introduced a motion to expel Householder from the legislature entirely, but the motion was tabled by the chamber's Republican majority.

A two-thirds supermajority of the Ohio House is required to expel Householder entirely, and he can't be expelled twice for the same reason. It's possible that lawmakers will still choose to do so if Householder wins his race in November. 

In his introductory speech, Cupp made multiple references to the charges against Householder without referencing him specifically. He called it "imperative" to restore the public's trust in elected officials.

"Transparency and accountability remain top priorities in leading this chamber," Cupp said.

Cupp, who wore a mask during the Speaker vote, also said that Ohio remains in the middle of a pandemic and the legislature must get back to work supporting the state's economic recovery.

Behind the scenes, the race for Speaker had narrowed down to Cupp and speaker pro tempore Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), who is term-limited. Three other lawmakers originally put their names forward, but dropped out Wednesday night and endorsed Cupp, who is running unopposed for his fourth term in November.

The House GOP caucus had said it would not reconvene until one candidate had obtained the necessary 50-vote majority to win. In the end, Butler withdrew his own name from consideration and voted for Cupp.

The decision over the new leader came much quicker than the last time the Ohio House was forced to replace a Speaker. When House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned due to an FBI investigation in 2018, it took two months – plus 11 rounds of voting  before lawmakers decided on state Rep. Ryan Smith to take over. 

During the 2018 fall election, Householder is accused of using funds funneled through a dark money group to secure the elections of his chosen Republican candidates, who then helped him win the Speakership over Smith in early 2019.

Federal prosecutors charged Householder and four others with bribery and money laundering in connection with a years-long conspiracy to win political power and secure the passage of a billion-dollar nuclear bill.

Two bills are currently under consideration to repeal HB6, which primarily benefits two failing nuclear plants owned by Energy Harbor, formerly known as FirstEnergy Solutions. DeWine has said he supports the repeal and replacement of HB6.

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