Updated: Rosenberger seat will be filled by GOP primary winner

By Gary Abernathy - [email protected]

The 91st District seat left vacant by the resignation of House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger will be filled for the remainder of the year by the winner of the May 8 Republican primary.

Brad Miller, a spokesman for House Republicans, confirmed Friday to The Times-Gazette that GOP caucus members have agreed to appoint the winner of the May 8 primary between Highland County Commissioner Shane Wilkin and Clinton County businesswoman Beth Ellis.

Miller said that while it’s not ideal for the seat to be vacant until then, the decision was seen as fair to both candidates and allows voters to decide.

Rosenberger resigned Thursday following reports that he was under investigation by the FBI. Rosenberger has denied any wrongdoing.

Steve Witham, election administrator of the Highland County Board of Elections, said earlier Friday he had been in contact with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office on the question, and, under the law, sitting Republican members of the House will choose Rosenberger’s replacement to serve as representative for the 91st District for the remainder of the year.

Witham said the caucus has 30 days from Rosenberger’s resignation to make that selection. That would allow the caucus to wait until after the May 8 GOP primary. Other political officials contacted Friday morning also predicted the caucus would choose the winner of the primary to fill Rosenberger’s seat.

Paulette Donley, chair of the Highland County GOP, said Friday she had spoken to state Sen. Bob Peterson, who said the interim speaker will appoint a 7-person committee and present their recommendation to the full caucus. She agreed the recommendation will likely be the winner of the GOP primary.

The winner of the Ellis-Wilkin race will face Democratic candidate Justin Grimes in November.

The 91st District includes Highland, Clinton, Pike and part of Ross counties.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456, or follow on Twitter @AbernathyGary.


By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]