This past Tuesday, the Ohio House met to kickoff the 2023 legislative session of the 135th Ohio General Assembly!
Of course, OGO was there to witness the proceedings, gather intel and meet up with our pro-gun allies.
And boy was it crazy.
Every two years, the House elects a new speaker by a majority vote of all House members at the opening session.
As you might not know, about a month ago the House Republican Caucus met to elect a new speaker.
At the time, they overwhelmingly selected Rep. Derek Merrin to be the next House Speaker.
Gun owners had a lot to be excited about with a Merrin speakership, as he voted consistently in favor of our gun rights and has co-sponsored SAPA, Constitutional Carry and Stand-your-Ground law in the past.
But he certainly did not run unopposed.
Leading up to yesterday’s vote, we learned that there were a handful of House Republicans working behind the scenes to prevent Merrin from taking the gavel and get their own guy in instead.
And we knew the rumors were all true when the Democrats did not even nominate one of their to be Speaker!
When the nominations for Speaker took place, two candidates were proposed – Republican Derek Merrin and Republican Jason Stephens.
And when the nominations were closed and the votes came down, on the first ballot Jason Stephens got 54 – he had won the speakership.
(Voting for Stephens was a coalition of 22 Republicans and all 32 Democrats.)
Devil in the Details
To anyone casually looking at the numbers, it looks like Jason Stephens won the House Speakership fair and square. But the numbers tell a very alarming story.
You see, Republicans in the Ohio House hold a legislative, veto-proof Supermajority: 67 Republicans to 32 Democrats.
Statistically, the Republicans should not need a single Democrat vote to elect a Republican Speaker.
But that is not what happened yesterday.
Instead of convincing enough Republicans that he was worthy of leading the House chamber, Stephens and his “team” of supporters went to the Democrats and cut a deal with them to get the votes they needed.
To be clear, instead of the 67 Republicans choosing, 22 Republicans and 32 Democrats – more Democrats than Republicans – chose the Speaker of the Ohio House.
I spoke with some folks after the vote who told me they were shocked, but not surprised by the outcome.
And if you feel like you’ve seen this before, it’s because you have.
Nearly an identical scenario happened two years ago when Larry Householder was elected speaker, again with the help of Democrats.
All of this begs the question:
How do some of the most RADICAL leftists in the state vote for a Republican to be the House Speaker? What do people like far-Left activist Democrat Casey Weinstein get in return for their vote? Do the Democrats get House votes on Red Flag Gun Confiscation? Was there a deal struck to placate gun-control radicals like Democrat Cecil Thomas? If so, what are the details of that deal?
And those would be damn good questions to be asking.
In Politics 101 class at any liberal university, everyone learns that you don’t get to be a Republican House Speaker via a Radical Left majority vote without some yuge concessions.
In Chris and my video, we speculated as to what those might be.
But between last night and now, the media has covered this extensively, seemingly confirming some of our concerns.
Just look what News5 Cleveland is writing about this:
Would the media classify Ohio Gun Owners’ legislative freedom agenda as ‘far-right policies?’
Of course they would. They always have.
Just listen to what Democrat Minority Leader Allison Russo’s bragged about to the media:
“They needed our votes and we took the opportunity to make sure that we were going to be working with the speaker who we felt at the end of the day would work with us on the issues we could agree on,” Democratic Minority Leader Allison Russo said.
Russo said her discussions with the Republican were productive and allowed her caucus to vote, all 32 of them, for Stephens. She mentioned they spoke about getting fair district maps — but most of the conversation was on priority bills, like education issues.
The deal may also stop the “Backpack Bill,” which would allow education funding to be awarded per child rather than to school districts for distribution, which Russo seemed to confirm.”
This is not good.
New5 Cleveland continued:
“Numerous Democratic lawmakers told News 5 that another item in the deal was the elimination of House Joint Resolution 6, the resolution to require a 60% supermajority vote in order for constitutional amendments to succeed. This bill failed in the 134th General Assembly after mass outrage.”
To be perfectly clear, Ohio Gun Owners loves and cherishes our Constitutional Republic form of government and rejects direct mob-rule democracy – especially when Ohio’s laws make it stupid simple for out-of-state-groups and special interests to amend our state’s constitution.
This is wrong.
This has already been done with a variety of issues, from dealing with redistricting ‘reform’, to textualizing individual casino parcel numbers, and even criminal justice issues.
Worse, the Radical Left has signaled that there is more debauchery on the way in form of amending our Constitution through ballot issues like: abortion on demand up to birth, codifying same-sex marriage, and perhaps even removing our state-recognized right to own a firearm!
But wait – there’s more.
One of the most RADICAL, militant, far-Left activists in the Ohio House, Democrat Representative Casey Weinstein, revealed:
“Speaker Stephens led a coalition of Moderate lawmakers from across the aisle, who will now focus on delivering the common sense solutions that Ohioans sent us here to deliver,” state Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said. “Now we can work on investing in our communities, on public education and workforce development.”
Weinstein added that he has worked with him, and finds him to be a constructive lawmaker focused on common-sense legislation, he said, adding that he will need to remain “moderate,” since he needs the support from the Democrats.”
It all sounds fine and dandy, until you realize what Casey Weinstein’s definition of “moderate” and “common sense” are.
You see, Weinstein supports abortion up to the moment of birth – possibly even later. Weinstein pushes the entire gun-control agenda in Columbus: “Assault Weapons” ban, Red Flag Gun Confiscation laws, Universal Gun Registration, “high capacity” magazine bans, mandatory waiting periods, ammunition limitations, one-gun-a-month policies and more.
Even more sick, Weinstein supports the entire youth LGBTQFU corruption agenda and refuses to support efforts to outlaw gender mutilation surgeries for small kids.
Will the real Jason Stephens please stand up?
So what does this all mean? Well, it doesn’t look spiffy.
Everything we are hearing indicates that Stephens made deals with the Democrats and promised them he would lead the House chamber as a moderate in exchange for their votes.
But as a legislator, Stephens actually has a decent voting record. He cosponsored Ohio Gun Owners’ Constitutional Carry bill last year, HB227. Stephens voted “yes” on repealing Ohio’s “duty to retreat” law.
In fact, Stephens even surveyed with Ohio Gun Owners in the 2022 election cycle 100% pro-gun, promising to SPONSOR the Second Amendment Preservation Act!
So which Jason Stephens will we get, the one with the pro-gun record promising to be a leader in the fight for gun rights, or the one promising the Democrats to stop “far-right policies?”
Well, we’re fixing to mess around and find out.
One thing is for certain – Ohio Gun Owners was here before Jason Stephens was ever appointed to the House in 2019, and we will be here long after his political career is no longer a faint memory.
OGO has the largest and most powerful grassroots army in the state of Ohio, regardless of issue, and we’re eager to get in the fight to advance gun rights in 2023, no matter who controls what at the Statehouse and no matter what deals were made behind closed doors.
OGO will be delivering you action links and targeting information shortly, because we fight HARD for our freedoms – no matter what.
Rob Knisley, Political Director
Ohio Gun Owners