Ohio Republican lawmakers in the state House of Representatives are at each other's throats in a growing schism — and after a particularly public floor fight this week, both sides are fuming, according to News 5 Cleveland.
The latest fight took place when right-wing Rep. Josh Williams tried to introduce amendments on the House floor, only to be passed over by more moderate GOP House Speaker Jason Stephens.
"Williams had two amendments he wanted to bring forward. He wanted to replace Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) with Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) for the assistant majority floor leader role and he wanted to change a specific rule dealing with quorums," reported Morgan Trau. "Williams, and many others within his group, shouted out to Stephens, objecting to moving forward without hearing their amendments. Stephens skipped over him."
"Even if you properly stand up and operate within the rules and you are the most educated on a particular subject, we are going to ignore you and we are going to continue to operate under traditions that were made before individuals that looked like you were even present in the House. That hurt to my core," said Williams, a constitutional law professor by training. Stephens, meanwhile, told News 5, "They wanted chaos on the floor. They were just trying to create controversy and maybe get their name in the paper or get on the news."
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The core of the issue is the election of Stephens as Speaker in the first place. The GOP caucus had selected farther-right Derek Merrin as their choice for Speaker, but during the full House vote, Stephens and a group of more moderate Republicans cut a deal with Democrats, giving him the gavel instead in a bipartisan vote.
Such deals have happened before in Ohio politics; former Speaker Larry Householder also made a deal with Democrats to be elected. He is now on trial in a massive public corruption case stemming from his role in a years-long, $60 million bribery scheme by utility companies to pass a law bailing out coal and nuclear plants and gutting renewable energy standards.