Ohio House Speaker discusses potential challenge for his position in upcoming year

In the midst of a brewing power struggle for the coveted speaker’s seat in the upcoming legislative session, House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) advised his potential challenger, Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), to concentrate on his own chamber for now.

Both men, Huffman and Johnson, are currently running for seats in the House for the upcoming November election. This is because Huffman’s term in the Senate is coming to an end, and both candidates are running unopposed. The race for the leadership position in the House is already shaping the atmosphere in both chambers, even though the official vote by the members is several months away.

Stephens expressed his opinion on the matter, stating that he believes the Senate president should focus on his responsibilities in the Senate rather than attempting to control the House. “That’s how I feel about that,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Following a contentious primary election cycle, Stephens’s remarks come as no surprise. In March, four out of the twelve Ohio House GOP incumbents, who had previously supported Stephens’s initial campaign for speaker, experienced defeat in their respective races.

After attending a post-primary event organized by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce last month, Huffman revealed that there are individuals who are urging him to consider running for the position of the next speaker.

“I am fully dedicated to ensuring that the Speaker of the House, whether it’s me or someone else, is elected by a majority of the majority caucus. I firmly believe that the Republicans will maintain control of the House, and it is only fitting that the speaker is chosen by the majority,” Huffman conveyed to reporters.

In January 2023, Stephens secured the speakership by garnering support from 22 Republicans and all 32 Democrats. This victory came after surpassing Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova), who had the backing of a larger portion of the Republican caucus.

Huffman expressed his belief that leading and legislating become incredibly challenging for Stephens, given the circumstances of his election. He highlighted the difficulty of being elected in such a manner and then claiming to be the leader of the Republican caucus.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) criticized the ongoing, yet unofficial race as a negative consequence of a legislature that is heavily influenced by a single political party.

Russo expressed his concerns to reporters, stating that there is an excessive number of them and they are engaged in internal conflicts. He emphasized the importance of having a balanced legislature, as the consequences of lacking such balance are ultimately borne by the people of Ohio.

Russo was surprised to learn that Huffman was actively contacting Democrats regarding his potential candidacy.

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MBS Staff
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