Following his unofficial win of the Republican nomination for representative of Ohio’s 91st House District, Highland County Commissioner Shane Wilkin said on Wednesday that while he was grateful for the results of the primary election, it will be a “tough day” when he leaves the commissioners office for Columbus — although it’s unclear when that may happen.
Wilkin, who defeated Clinton County opponent Beth Ellis Tuesday night by 1,359 votes in unofficial results, will replace former Speaker of the Ohio House and 91st District Representative Cliff Rosenberger for what remains of his term, but the timeline of Wilkin’s transition is unclear.
Rosenberger, a Clarksville Republican, resigned last month amid rumors of an FBI investigation. Since his term was due to expire at the end of this year, the House GOP caucus has said it would appoint the winner of the primary to Rosenberger’s post to fill the remainder of the term.
When Wilkin was asked if he had received any communication on the transition Wednesday, he said he had not.
Neither had Paulette Donley, the current chair of the local GOP.
“It’s coming, I just don’t know where it will come from, and the time element there,” she said. “They would have to have the caucus together to actually appoint him.”
In regard to Wilkin’s seat on the Highland County Board of Commissioners, where he serves as president, Donley said the Highland County Republican Central Committee will have to reorganize after votes are certified at the end of the month, and Wilkin will have to officially resign before any action is taken.
But, when the time comes, Donley said the central committee will make an appointment for Wilkin’s seat.
“That’s going to be dependent on when he’s able to move on to Columbus,” she said.
As previously reported, unofficial results show that Wilkin defeated Ellis in Highland County with 2,624 votes to Ellis’ 1,126, in Pike County with 1,102 votes to Ellis’ 671, and in Ross County with 195 votes to Ellis’ 147.
Ellis received 2,658 votes in Clinton County, while Wilkin received 2,041.
Wilkin will face Democratic candidate Justin Grimes of New Vienna in the November General Election, with the winner of that race beginning the new term in January.
On Wednesday, Wilkin thanked volunteers and voters for their part in his victory.
“I thank everybody who knocked on doors, wrote letters, and for the occasional call or text message when you’re thinking things aren’t going well,” he said.
Wilkin also applauded Ellis on her efforts in the race.
“I’d like to compliment Ms. Ellis on the campaign and getting involved,” he said. “Jumping into a district this size, it’s tough. It’s a lot of campaigning. I know she worked hard and I congratulate her on her efforts.”
In a prepared statement issued Tuesday night, Ellis congratulated Wilkin and wished him well in future endeavors.
“I wish Shane every good wish as he assumes his new position of representing all of us,” she said. “As for my future, I am an active farmer and businesswoman and will remain fully engaged in the public life of our community.”
Ellis added that while she was “disappointed in the outcome, I am immensely grateful for the voters who supported me, and for the great work of our tireless, professional and dedicated campaign volunteers.
“I am grateful, too, for the countless people whose stories of personal struggle and success I heard while crisscrossing Highland, Pike, Ross and Clinton counties. These extraordinary positive and uplifting experiences shall remain with me forever.”
Ellis did not immediately return calls for further comment Wednesday.
Wilkin said his first order of business in office will be to take on the “learning curve” associated with his new role.
“My experience as a commissioner helps lessen that curve, but I’m going to go up there and learn and go from there,” he said. “I’m humbled and I’m thrilled to take on the challenge, and try to be as good a state representative as I can.”
Until then, Wilkin said he will continue with his duties at the commissioners office as usual.
But, he added, “It’ll be a tough day when I know I’m done here, just because of the guys I work with, the relationships I’ve built… I look forward to the next challenge.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.