GOP Battle Continues

Republican Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens is asserting that he controls his caucus and its campaign coffers, despite claims to the contrary by an unyielding, rival GOP group. It’s the latest chapter in a saga of infighting among the legislative chamber’s Republican supermajority…that is calling into question how lawmakers will function in the two-year session that began this month, which will include shaping Ohio’s next state operating budget. The feud broke out after Stephens snagged a surprising victory to become speaker earlier this month with mostly Democratic support and less than half of the Republican supermajority votes. The outcome shocked GOP Rep. Derek Merrin, a Lucas County Republican who believed he had already clinched the job in an informal vote before the holidays. Stephens’ spokesman, Aaron Mulvey, said the speaker does not accept public pronouncements by Merrin and his allies that Merrin won leadership of the GOP House caucus…which includes control of its campaign arm…in a vote held this week. Merrin says a majority of the chamber’s 67 Republicans voted him in during a closed-door meeting.

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