By Jim Siegel / Dec 12, 2018
Some Ohio unions are contacting House Democrats urging them to support Rep. Larry Householder as the next speaker, while the state’s largest business associations are asking House Republicans to schedule a vote.
Householder, R-Glenford, and Speaker Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, have been battling to be elected House speaker for the next two-year session, beginning Jan. 7. Typically, Republicans meet behind closed doors to coalesce around a new leader, so the official vote in January is largely a formality.
But that didn’t happen in June, when Smith was elected on the 11th vote to replace former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, who resigned amid an FBI investigation. Since the November election, Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, who as dean of the next caucus is in charge of calling a vote, has tried to get Smith and Householder together to meet privately, but has not called a caucus vote.
Smith appears to have a majority of next year’s 61-member Republican caucus backing him. But his total remains well below the 50 votes needed to ensure a victory.
If Householder and his union allies could convince enough Democrats to support him, he could build a coalition large enough to reach 50 votes or at least overtake Smith’s support within the GOP caucus. If after 10 votes, a speaker candidate does not have a majority of those voting to be named speaker, the winner needs only a plurality on the 11th vote.
As first reported by Cleveland.com, AFSCME Council 8, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 683, and the Ohio AFL-CIO have contacted House Democrats recently urging them to back Householder, who also was speaker from 2001-04. Unions spent millions supporting Householder and his preferred candidates in the November election.
“Their pitch is that there’s really not a dime’s worth of difference between the two candidates except on labor issues,” said Rep. David Leland, D-Columbus.
Leland suggested there is something to that, noting that under Smith, the House hasn’t seen much moderation. He pointed to controversial bills including stand-your-ground gun legislation, an anti-abortion heartbeat bill, more limits on cities’ regulatory authority, and a flare-up last month on the House floor with the president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.
Robert Davis, political director for AFSCME Council 8, said House Republicans have the numbers to work out the leadership issue themselves, but if it comes down to needing Democratic support, he is relaying that Householder has made a commitment to organized labor to oppose the issues that concern them most.
That includes right-to-work, prevailing wage and contract labor agreements. [My Note: AND MAINTAINING PROPERTY LINE SETBACKS !] Bills on those issues are introduced virtually every session.
Leland said he expects House Democrats will meet soon to discuss the leadership vote. “I’m going to wait and see what the conversation is like.”
Rep. Richard Brown, D-Canal Winchester, also confirmed that he got calls from the three unions urging a Householder vote.
“They think we’ll never be a right-to-work state if he’s the speaker, and that’s really their main focus,” Brown said. “I think Democrats are friends of labor too. I tell them I wish we had the majority.