Beginning in January 2009, Ohio House Democrats will be in the majority for the first time in fourteen years. With a net gain of 7 seats, Democrats will hold a 53-46 majority. Within a few short weeks of the November election, House Democrats elected Rep. Armond Budish (D-Beachwood), a second term member, to lead the caucus as Speaker in the 128th General Assembly.
Other House Democrat leaders elected by the caucus include: Rep. Matt Szollosi (D-Oregon), Speaker Pro Tem; Rep. Jennifer Garrison (DMarietta), majority leader; Rep. Tracy Heard (D-Columbus), assistant majority leader; Rep. Jay Goyal (D-Mansfield), majority whip; Rep. Allan Sayre (D-Dover), assistant majority whip.
Rep. William Batchelder (R-Medina), currently the chair of the Ohio House Insurance Committee, was elected minority leader by the House Republican caucus. Other members in the 128th Ohio House minority leadership team include: Rep. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati), assistant minority leader; Rep. John Adams (R-Sidney), minority whip; Rep.-elect Kris Jordan (R-Powell) assistant minority whip.
In the Ohio Senate, Republicans will maintain a 21-12 majority. Sen. Bill Harris, a two term Republican member from Ashland, will remain President in 2009. Sen. Niehaus (R-New Richmond) will serve as President Pro Temp. Sen. Keith Faber (R-Celina) was elected majority floor leader and Sen. Mark Wagoner (R-Toledo) was elected majority whip.
The Senate Democrats selected Sen. Capri Cafaro of Hubbard to lead the Senate minority caucus.
Chairmanships of both the Senate and House Insurance Committees will change in 2009. Announcements regarding chairmanships and committee assignments are expected early next year.
The Ohio Supreme Court
Two seats on Ohio’s Supreme Court were at stake in the November election. Both incumbent candidates endorsed by the Ohio Republican party were re-elected. Justice Evelyn Stratton defeated Cuyahoga County Juvenile Administrative Court Judge Peter Sikora by a 63% to 37% margin. Justice Maureen O’Connor defeated Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Joe Russo by a 67% to 33% margin.
The Ohio Attorney General
Also of interest to the insurance industry, a special election was held in November to elect a candidate to serve out the remainder of former Attorney General Marc Dann’s term. Dann resigned his post in May of 2008.
The Democratic candidate, State Treasurer Richard Cordray, defeated Republican Mike Crites. Cordray received 57% of the vote and will serve the remainder of the unexpired term ending January 2011.
Democrats continue to hold all statewide offices except for Auditor.
In 2009, Ohio’s Congressional delegation will include 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans. Republicans currently have an 11-7 edge in the delegation.
In a closely watched race in Ohio and nationally, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy narrowly defeated Sen. Steve Stivers, currently the chair of the Ohio Senate Insurance, Commerce & Labor Committee. The official certification of ballots in the 15th Ohio Congressional District race was delayed until early December due to litigation over disputed provisional ballots. Kilroy will take the seat now occupied by retiring Republican Deborah Pryce. Two state senators were elected to fulfill two other seats left open by retiring Republicans Ralph Regula and Dave Hobson. Democrat John Boccieri will succeed retiring Regula and Republican Steve Austria will succeed Hobson.