Dayton Democratic Rep. Fred Strahorn’s future as Ohio House Minority Leader could be in jeopardy after he supported Republican Ryan Smith for speaker over Larry Householder, who eventually won the job this week.
Strahorn was non-committal when asked if he plans to remain as Minority Leader for the 38-member caucus.
“It is something we’ll talk about,” he said this week.
Strahorn, who has represented Dayton in the General Assembly for 16 of the past 18 years, is the only Democrat representing the Miami Valley in the Legislature. While Democratic House members picked Strahorn as leader, they could call for re-vote if one-third of them sign a petition to do so.
Assistant Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, who supported Householder for speaker, whether there is a re-vote is to be determined and it’s unclear who would step up to replace Strahorn.
The Democratic caucus fractured over what strategy to employ in the contentious speaker’s race between Householder, who held the post 2001 to 2004, and Smith, who held it for the last six months of 2018.
In June when Smith got the job, nearly all Democrats voted for Strahorn for speaker — forcing Republican members to sort out their own fight.
This time around, though, some labor union leaders urged Democrats to back Householder over Smith, saying Householder indicated he wouldn’t bring so called “right to work” to Ohio. Right to work laws weaken labor power. And Householder wooed Democrats with promises of more bipartisanship.
When it was clear Dems wouldn’t vote as a block, Strahorn withdrew his name from the race. Strahorn said he didn’t want to be a spoiler for either Smith or Householder but he supported Smith for the job.
“As far as I was concerned it made no sense to take out a sitting speaker without cause — someone who I have a good working relationship with,” Strahorn said of Smith.
On Monday, Householder won the job with 26 Republican votes and 26 Democratic votes.
Householder, a Perry County Republican, left the Statehouse in 2004, forced out by term limits and hounded by allegations of political corruption. In 2006, the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice announced that its investigation concluded with no charges being filed. Householder returned to the Ohio House in 2017.
Strahorn served in the House when Householder first held the speaker’s gavel. When asked if he has concerns about Householder’s history, Strahorn said “We’re going to start fresh. I respect the office of the speaker and everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.”