Ohio House, Senate choose leaders

First Posted: 11/12/2014

COLUMBUS (AP) — An Air Force veteran is slated be the next leader of the Ohio House after his fellow Republican lawmakers picked him for the job Wednesday.

State Rep. Cliff Rosenberger, of Clarksville in southwest Ohio, is poised to replace term-limited House Speaker William Batchelder when a new session of the General Assembly begins in January.

The House speaker helps set the legislative agenda. He decides committee positions, in addition to recruiting and working to elect caucus members. The leader also will play a key role in next year’s budget negotiations with Republican Gov. John Kasich.

The GOP caucus selects the House speaker because they hold the majority. This month, Republicans won a record 65 seats in the 99-member chamber.

The leadership race was less competitive in the Senate, where the GOP majority chose to keep its current leaders for the next General Assembly. The Senate leadership team includes: Keith Faber of Celina, as president; and Chris Widener, of Springfield, as president pro tempore.

Democrats will elect their leadership teams later for the House and Senate.

At 33, Rosenberger is thought to be one of the youngest House speakers and the chamber’s first Asian-American leader. He was first elected to the House in 2010 and is in his second term. Prior to becoming a legislator, he was formerly assigned to the 113th fighter wing of the Air National Guard. He also served as the national political events coordinator for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2008.

Rosenberger said he doesn’t intend to fill Batchelder’s shoes, but maintain the tone set by the longtime legislator.

“I’m looking to continue on his legacy and what he’s built — a fair and open process for a caucus, a caucus that’s strong and independent, and one that will continue to do the right things for our members as we continue to come together as one,” Rosenberger told reporters.

Rosenberger had been considered the front runner after he and potential rival Ron Amstutz of Wooster merged their teams of backers this summer. That gave Rosenberger an apparent numeric edge among the caucus.

State Rep. Jim Butler, a Dayton-area conservative, had also sought the position.

Rosenberger did not outline any specific proposals for the upcoming session, though he said job creation would remain a priority.

The GOP caucus elected Amstutz, the House Finance chairman, to the No. 2 ranking position of speaker pro tempore.

Other House leaders will include Barbara Sears, of Sylvania, as majority floor leader; Jim Buchy, of Greenville, as assistant majority floor leader; Mike Dovilla, of Berea, as majority whip; and Dorothy Pelanda, of Marysville, as assistant majority whip.

The GOP leadership team in the Senate also includes Tom Patton, of Strongsville, as majority floor leader; and Sen. Larry Obhof, of Medina, as majority whip.

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