Speaker Johnson inches closer to getting GOP reinforcement with Ohio House race – Washington Examiner

Ohio voters chose who they want to fill the vacancy of retired Rep. Bill Johnson on Tuesday, but it will be months before he is sent to complete the remainder of his term. 

State Sen. Michael Rulli won the special primary to replace Johnson, who resigned from Congress in January to become the president of Youngstown University. 

The seat is reliably Republican, meaning Rulli is all but guaranteed to take his place, but the general election will not be held until June 11, denying Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) a much-needed reinforcement in the House for another several months. 

Rulli, backed by the center-right Republican Main Street Partnership, received 49% of the vote, with state Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus at 41% and chiropractor Rick Tsai at 10% at the time the race was called. Stolzfus had been endorsed by members of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

House Republicans came into the new Congress with a threadbare, five-seat majority that has eroded further over time. That small margin has empowered the speaker’s right flank, but it has also forced him to work with Democrats on must-pass legislation. The chamber has grown accustomed to bypassing regular order to overcome conservative resistance.

Each of the Republicans who ran in the special primary on Tuesday also competed for a two-year term in Ohio’s 6th Congressional District, which begins in January. Rulli won the race for a full term as well. 


Bill Johnson is far from the only early retirement this Congress. Three weeks before he resigned, Kevin McCarthy stepped down following his dramatic ouster as speaker. The latest is Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who initially planned to stay in Congress through the new year but abruptly announced he would leave at the end of this week without giving Mike Johnson advance notice.

Out in California, voters will decide who will fill out the remainder of McCarthy’s term on Tuesday as well, but if no candidate receives at least 50% support, there will be a May 21 runoff. Assemblyman Vince Fong, the ex-speaker’s hand-picked successor, is considered the front-runner.