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Democrats Weighing Options In Ohio House Speaker Battle

Ohio Statehouse Legislative Chamber
Bob Hall

The behind-the-scenes battle over who will lead the Republican-dominated Ohio House next year isn’t just between supporters of current Speaker Ryan Smith and former speaker Larry Householder.

Longtime state Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) said with recent bills on abortion and gun rights, he’s open to options besides backing the current speaker.

“Clearly there’s no difference between Smith and Householder, and if Democrats can impact the speaker’s race, then the question is, what can we do for the people we represent?” Leland said.

State Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) leads the Democratic women’s caucus, and will meet with that group before a meeting of the full Democratic caucus Tuesday.

“It would behoove all the potential leaders or speakers to be talking with us more directly and not ignoring us," Galonski said.

Both confirm that labor unions are urging Democrats to consider Householder.

Galonski suggests Minority Leader Fred Strahorn could be elected Speaker – but Leland said there’s no way Republicans would let that happen. 

State Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent (D-Columbus), who supported Smith last summer, is no longer a member of the Democratic caucus. She was voted out of the caucus in June after using official letterhead to send a public records request about allegations against Columbus Police. On her request, she included the signatures of 15 members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, who say Kent didn't get permission to use their names.