COLUMBUS — With Larry Householder out as speaker of Ohio’s House of Representatives, three local Republican state legislators rallied around a former Ohio Supreme Court justice as his replacement during a vote in the Statehouse Thursday afternoon.
Defiance’s Craig Riedel of the 82nd House District joined 81st District Rep. Jim Hoops of Napoleon and 47th District Rep. Derek Merrin of Lucas County in supporting Robert Cupp of Lima, representative of Ohio’s 4th District and former Supreme Court justice.
All but a few House Republicans supported Cupp, who was affirmed as speaker Thursday by a 55-38 count in a yes or no vote. No Democrats supported him.
Cupp needed only a simple majority of House members (50) to be affirmed.
Riedel had announced Friday his intention to seek the speaker’s position, but withdrew his candidacy for the position Wednesday and threw his support behind Cupp for the “better of the cause.”
“In order to build that unity that we so desperately needed, I just felt it was the right thing to do to throw my support to Bob Cupp,” Riedel said Friday during an interview with The Crescent-News.
“It was a great day for Ohio,” added Riedel about Thursday’s vote. “We started the healing process. ... .
“I’m very happy that Bob Cupp is our new speaker,” said Riedel. “Bob is the right man for this position to lead us forward. He is a man of high character and high integrity. He’s a humble man, and right now the House of Representatives needs a heavy dose of humility. We need a man who’s humble to lead us forward.”
Hoops told The Crescent-News earlier this week that “Bob Cupp is a person with a lot of integrity. He’s the one we need. With his experience he’s known throughout the state, and I don’t think he has to prove anything.”
During an interview Thursday, he added that “I’m very happy that we have a new speaker. I just feel we can move on and do the things that we need to do representing the people of northwest Ohio and all of Ohio. This is the start of going in the right direction.”
Earlier this week, Riedel stressed that Republicans wanted to present a united front for a new speaker and would decide on one candidate before proceeding to Thursday’s official vote.
That’s what happened as Riedel and three other Republicans who had expressed interest in the House’s top leadership position — Speaker Pro Tem Jim Butler of suburban Dayton, Rick Carfagna of Delaware County and Tim Ginter of Salem — supported Cupp, the only speaker nominee on Thursday.
Getting there was not quite a slam dunk though.
While Riedel, Carfagna and Ginter withdrew their candidacies for speaker on Wednesday, Butler remained a challenger to Cupp. During a secret ballot this week — prior to Thursday’s official vote — the House’s Republican members chose Cupp over Butler by one vote, according to Riedel.
Although Riedel said he has a good relationship with Butler, he noted that he was still part of Householder’s leadership team.
“I felt that we needed to go 180 degrees the other direction,” he said. “That means a complete overhaul of the leadership team. I didn’t want any connection to Larry Householder at all to begin the process of building trust. It was just absolutely imperative we make a clean break completely from anybody on the Householder leadership team.”
All but a few of the House’s Republicans supported Cupp during the official vote Thursday.
That was quite different than January 2019 when Householder was chosen to lead the House.
In fact, a majority of Republicans did not support him for speaker back then, and his election was made possible by support from House Democrats.