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Commentary: GOP House Members Finally Oust Householder - Thanks To Democrats

larry householder
John Minchillo
Now former Republican Ohio State Rep. Larry Householder sits at the head of a legislative session as Speaker of the House in 2019 in Columbus.

Republicans in the Ohio House – the majority of them anyway – finally managed to get themselves together and do what they should have done nearly a year ago: Boot former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder out of the House Chamber and leave him out on Broad Street in Columbus to find his way home to Perry County.

As Householder once famously said of doing the job of legislator, they put on their "big boy pants."

And what caused this epiphany in the ranks of the House majority after months of being as quiet on the subject as cicadas living underground? Were they suddenly consumed with shame at being associated with someone who is charged with federal crimes and is at the heart of a $61 billion bribery scandal, the largest such case in the 218-year history of Ohio?

Well, yes, they were shamed, in a manner of speaking. Not so much shamed by the presence of Householder occupying the legislative chamber which they, as the majority party, controlled, but shamed by the fact that it was the minority party, the House Democrats, who filed the first resolution to expel Householder and, while they were at it, introduced a package of ethics reforms that might prevent a repeat of this embarrassment.

Householder, indicted with four Republican associates, has been loudly proclaiming his innocence and he did so on the House floor Wednesday.

Innocent until proven guilty. That's the way we do things in this country. Fine. That is as it should be. We'll let the courts sort out the guilt or innocence of Householder and his former pals.

But the fact is, the stench of corruption was getting too strong in the Ohio Statehouse. And the Republican majority – mostly from small towns, rural areas and suburban communities in Ohio – was used to operating in a vacuum, with ordinary Ohioans paying little attention to the goings-on at the corner of High Street and Broad in Columbus.

This $61 million scandal, tied to an Akron-based energy company looking for and receiving a $1 billion bailout for a couple of severely messed up nuclear power plants – well, that has been getting the attention of the voting public. Especially when many of them started paying the price for the bailout on their utility bills.

And the bad publicity might not bother the Republican state representatives who run in heavily gerrymandered districts – districts that would vote for a Rueben sandwich if it had an "R" next to its name.

But it would most assuredly matter to the Ohio Republican Party, which, next year, will try to try to keep its iron grip on all the state's constitutional offices, from governor on down, and, at the same time, win the U.S. Senate seat being given up by Republican incumbent Rob Portman.

That statewide slate of GOP candidates doesn't want to be hung with the tag of being the party of public corruption. They will not want to run with the albatross of Larry Householder hanging around their necks.

The Ohio Democratic Party is salivating over the possibilities.

So little wonder that the majority of Republicans in the House suddenly got religion on the subject of Larry Householder.

But not until their Democratic colleagues shamed them into it.

politically speaking 2
Credit Jim Nolan / WVXU

Read more "Politically Speaking" here.


Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.