Vultures on a Wire: Republicans in Ohio picking a new speaker and holding their majority–the complicated made easy

It used to be that when the FBI raided the house of a politician that the assumption of guilt was quite clear, but not anymore. However, since the Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned as the lead Republican in charge of legislative work at the state house last month the place has been frozen at a critical time leading up to the midterm elections. From what we know of the case so far, it looks like Rosenberger is under a political hit and to survive it he is putting all his energy into defending himself from the FBI raid and the aftermath of it because as anybody knows who’s been through something like that, the legal bills can be ominous, and very distracting. And that would be the objective. With the liberal John Kasich leaving the governorship in 2018 and a key senate seat up for grabs between Sharrod Brown and the great Republican Jim Renacci, Democrats are making a power move and they want to take over the majority in Ohio at the House of Representatives. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn ten years from now or twenty that the FBI was playing a role in picking this investigation into Rosenberger to happen now so that the chaos left in the power vacuum might divide Republicans so that Democrats could take over in November by benefiting from the pandemonium. It’s not just the recent evidence of the FBI going after the Trump campaign, this kind of thing has been happening for many years—the agency is now quite well-known for becoming weaponized to attack political opponents, and as government workers, they go after Republicans in favor of Democrats—because that’s how things are in politics in this years of 2018.

With that stage set, it is important for Republicans to nominate a new speaker of the house quickly so that the legislative agenda can get back on track and all the House members can work together to keep their majority this upcoming fall. But right now, the House is more than split on who should take the gavel because it illustrates the philosophic divide between old Kasich Republicans and the new Trump conservatives. But as John Boehner has recently stated, the Republican Party is now Donald Trump’s and Ohio is one of the most powerful states in the union, politically on the federal level—which will increase in importance with each month that draws closer to November. The Democrats aren’t exactly stupid in their political movements, they may be idiots when it comes to personal philosophy, but regarding politics, they know how to play the game especially when the FBI is obviously on their side trying to work the strike zone in favor of their position.

There is a little game going on with Larry Householder who used to be the speaker from 2001 to 2004. He wants the gavel back in 2019 so he’s not interested in a bloody fight for a temporary seat which is what all the fuss is over. He’d rather let everyone else show their cards and get nice and bloodied so that after the House holds its majority after the fall elections he could then swoop in and declare that only he has the experience to be the next speaker. The trouble with Larry is that he has taken a considerable amount of money from the labor unions and that means trouble down the road for him and the leverage that labor unions always put on law makers. In Ohio that topic is tricky, we are not yet a Right to Work state like many of the states are that touch our borders so in making a pro-business foundation to draw in big manufacturing opportunities, Right to Work is a major consideration and Larry Householder will never allow a bill to enter the house so long as he holds the gavel, and that is one less option in the fight to be a more competitive state economically. Since John Kasich turned soft after his defeat of Senate Bill 5 which went after public sector unions in 2012, he has turned Republicans away from Right to Work. And these days because of Trump, labor unions are actually voting Republican for a change which is new. Trump continues to win their support and Jim Renacci is going to continue to garner support as this is a new aspect of party politics that has certainly changed in favor of Republicans. But in making decisions economically, the union lobby can’t have its influence on the House floor, and Larry leans left when it comes to union business. Not a good thing when a major business like Space X or Tesla might locate regionally just 90 miles to the west at the border of Indiana and pretty much get the same things they could in Ohio, access to good labor, highway egress, and political stability for their multibillion dollar investments—but Right to Work is the deciding factor. The Supreme Court is preparing to make a major decision on union monopolization and Boeing is taking aggressive action in South Carolina to fight back against union takeovers there, so the marketplace will be largely determined in the future based on Right to Work legislation—it will be a big national issue in 2021 and 2022.

Andy Thompson is a good guy and has been one of the candidates up for the interim speaker post however he is term-limited and would simply be a placeholder for Householder, which is why Larry is hanging back and letting the other Republicans fight things out. Larry is like a vulture sitting on an electrical line waiting for the dead carcass of an unwitting animal to be hit by a car for sitting in the middle of a busy road. He knows it’s just a matter of time, the FBI has just run over Rosenberger leaving him to be picked apart by those seeking to control the seat in his wake and Larry is waiting for that competition to be devoured as well where he will simply swoop in during the month of December and make his power move for the official vote.

However, that’s not what’s good for the GOP as a state organization. Personal power for some administrative seat isn’t what it used to be back in 2001 because the Trump administration moves fast and the business of a state that he cares about has to be nimble on its feet, so the new speaker for this interim seat needs to be someone who can continue to do the job into 2019 officially. The Ohio Republicans need to pull together ideologically and to keep that momentum going into the next calendar year. That leaves really only one competent name that all the other House members should rally behind, and that is that of Ryan Smith. He’s a good solid Republican who could continue doing the speaker job for the foreseeable future which is what the GOP needs for continuity throughout 2018 into 2019.

The national media has sat on those same electrical wires with Larry Householder using the chaos to attempt to weaken the Republican Party in hopes that the carryover effect would allow the state to go blue and away from Trump during 2020. To do that they need to elect a Democrat as governor and protect the Sharrod Brown senate seat—and divide and conquer the House Republicans. That is why Republicans need to come together during this upcoming week and get behind Ryan Smith so that the GOP can get moving again and not allow the legislative agenda to stay stagnant over the entire summer. Democrats want very much to be able to point at all this speaker chaos and declare that Republicans have not done anything all summer and that its time for a change, so that issue needs to go away quickly so the excuses are removed from the argument. The speaker issue needs to be solved not just for the interim, but for the duration.

It’s a shame that we have to worry about activists FBI agents who are picking party politics over true legal concerns, or that fellow Republicans are more than willing to let their partners get run over by the flow of political traffic for their own advantage in power politics, but that is the nature of our world and to win in that environment we have to make sure the right people get elected into the right positions for all the right reasons, and in that regard, the Ohio House will take care of that business this upcoming week and will get the matter solved so that business can continue on and chaos will be dismissed from the field of battle. The GOP must come together under the flag of Trump and maintain their majority, and advance conservatism into a growing party. The politics of 2001 is not the politics of 2019, and those who don’t get that need to get off the wire and stop trying to eat their own.

Rich Hoffman
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