Ohio lawmaker not speaker but says he still leads House GOP


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A conservative state lawmaker who lost to a fellow Republican in last week’s vote to determine who will lead the Ohio House as speaker said Wednesday that he has the support of most of the members of his party in the chamber.

The fractures among Republicans raise questions about how the House and its GOP supermajority will function in the two-year session that just began.

Rep. Derek Merrin, of Monclova, lost the speaker race to fellow GOP member Rep. Jason Stephens, of Kitts Hill, even though he won an informal vote for the powerful position back in November. With votes from 22 Republicans and 32 Democrats in the 99-member House, Stephens won with more support from Democrats than his own party.

Merrin invited more than 40 fellow House Republicans who supported him to meet privately Wednesday to discuss seeking changes to House rules to lessen the speaker’s power and ensure that they are heard. The agenda also included discussion about advancing legislation that would make it harder for citizens to amend Ohio’s constitution, which they don’t believe would be a priority for Stephens.