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Stephens chooses mix of his supporters, Merrin backers for his Ohio House leadership team

Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) speaks to reporters after the first day of session on January 2, 2023, the day he was elected speaker over presumed speaker-elect Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township).
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) speaks to reporters after the first day of session on January 2, 2023, the day he was elected speaker over presumed speaker-elect Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township).

On Tuesday, the Ohio House holds its first session since Rep. Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) won the vote for speaker over Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township), who had been the speaker-elect last fall. Late Friday, more than two weeks after that vote, Speaker Stephens finally announced his leadership team.

In a memo to House Republicans late Friday, Stephens named majority floor leader Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) to continue in that position, and Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) as assistant floor leader. Both had voted for Stephens. But he also named Rep. Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) as majority whip and Rep. Sharon Ray (Medina) as assistant majority whip – they both voted for Merrin.

Stephens got fewer Republican votes than Merrin, but won with the support of all 32 House Democrats. Merrin had kept his supporters together in what one called the “integrity caucus.”

It's unclear whether this proposal would satisfy the Merrin supporters, who asked Stephens for rules changes including two-thirds of all seats on committees and two-thirds of committee chair slots, to reflect the support Merrin had among the members of the GOP supermajority in the House.

The full House must vote on those nominations Tuesday.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.