The man who represents Jackson County and a portion of Vinton County in the Ohio House of Representatives is now the House's top-ranking member.
On Wednesday, June 6, Ohio House members elected 93rd District State Representative Ryan Smith, a Republican from Bidwell in Gallia County, to serve as Speaker of the House, filling a position that had been vacant since April 12. Following the vote on the floor, Smith was sworn in as the 103rd Speaker in Ohio history.
The 93rd District includes Jackson and Gallia counties and portions of Vinton and Lawrence counties. Smith, who is also a financial services advisor, was first elected state representative in 2012 and is currently serving his third two-year term. Over the past two budget cycles, Smith oversaw the state's budget-making process as chairman of the House Finance Committee. He is candidate for re-election in November's general election and was unopposed in the recent primary election.
Smith was among those interested in seeking the Speaker's position for the 2019-2020 session, but the position suddenly came open in April when then Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger of Clarksville resigned amid reports he was possibly being investigated by the FBI. Rosenberger's term as Speaker was to have expired at the end of the year and he was not seeking re-election due to term limits.
Smith was interested in the appointment to serve as Speaker for the remainder of Rosenberger's term, but some other House members had other ideas. One other suggested option was choosing a term-limited member who would serve just through the end of the year with a new Speaker being selected at the start of 2019. Another option was for the senior House member to be designated to serve as Speaker through the end of the year without an election.
As it turned out, House member opted to have a vote for a speaker to serve through the end of this year, which was conducted Wednesday. Smith was a candidate along with Republicans Andy Thompson of Marietta, Jim Hughes of Upper Arlington and Democrat Fred Strahorn of Dayton. No candidates received the 46 votes for the required majority through 10 ballots, but Smith was elected on 11th ballot when the candidate with the plurality of votes is considered elected.
Smith received 44 votes, two short of the majority total. Strahorn received 27 votes, Thompson 13 votes, and Hughes 7.
Smith issued the following statement following his election as speaker:
"It is a sincere honor to be elected as the 103rd Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and I am humbled by the support from so many of my colleagues. It is a privilege to represent the citizens of the 93rd District and I look forward to continuing to serve all Ohioans as Speaker. I am encouraged by the fact that the Ohio House can now place its full focus on passing meaningful legislation. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle are eager to ensure the work of the people receives the attention and deliberation it deserves, and together we will work to promote high standards of respect and decorum throughout this institution."
Provided he is re-elected by 93rd District voters and he wishes to be elected to serve as Speaker for the 2019-2020 term, Smith is expected to face a strong challenge from State Representative Larry Householder (R-Glenford). Householder is also seeking to regain the House leadership role and hopes to strengthen his support among Republican members following this November's election.
As the head of the Ohio House, the Speaker guides the agenda of the chamber, presides over sessions and provides direction to fellow members and staff. Along with the House Leadership team, the Speaker decides when bills sponsored by individual members reach the House floor for a vote and determines committee chairmanships and leadership positions in his or her respective caucus. His duties will include running the House's legislative sessions and making committee appointments.