Johnson’s resignation led to a series of moves (2024)

Republican Bill Johnson’s Jan. 21 resignation from the U.S. House put in motion a series of moves during the past few weeks that led to the election of his replacement and the appointment of two others to state legislative positions.

Also, those two Republican appointees won’t have to run in a primary and when Democrats select a state Senate candidate on July 16, that person will go straight to the ballot as the party’s nominee without a primary.

While we’ve seen candidates appointed by political parties before without a primary, this is the first time there will be three in one election to the best of my knowledge.

Let’s start with Johnson, who served 13 years in Congress.

He was hired Nov. 21 by the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees as the school’s president. Johnson didn’t resign from Congress until Jan. 21.

With it known that Johnson wouldn’t seek another term, candidates filed by the Dec. 20 deadline for the March 19 primary.

Republican Michael Rulli of Salem and Democrat Michael L. Kripchak won their respective party primaries for a full two-year term, starting in January 2025, as well as to move to the June 11 special election to fill the remainder of Johnson’s term.

Rulli, a state senator, won that special election and was sworn in June 25 to the U.S. House.

With Rulli’s state Senate seat open, Republican chairs and secretaries in the 33rd District got to select his successor for the Nov. 5 ballot.

Based on the timing of Rulli’s resignation, it was too late under state law to have a primary for his position, and there has to be an election for the final two years of his term.

The Republican chairs and secretaries in the three counties in the district — Mahoning, Columbiana and Carroll — met June 13 and voted 4-2 to select Republican Al Cutrona of Canfield, a four-year state House member, as the party’s nominee for the Nov. 5 election.

The Ohio Senate Republican Caucus agreed to appoint whoever the locals selected for the ballot as Rulli’s successor in the state Senate through the end of the year. Cutrona was sworn in June 26.

The state Senate isn’t going to meet again until after the Nov. 5 election so Cutrona so far has served only part of one day in the upper chamber.

The Democratic chairs and secretaries in the three counties will meet July 16 to select that party’s nominee. That comes a day after the three people who applied for the job will answer questions from the Democratic executive and central committees from the three counties and the public during a virtual town hall.

Those three candidates are Youngstown Councilman Julius Oliver; Martin Hume, a Mahoning County assistant prosecutor; and David Mosure, a former principal with MS Consultants Inc.

Mosure is likely to face scrutiny for his past contributions to Republicans including former President Donald Trump and Gov. Mike DeWine as well as for not being a registered Democrat. But he can spend a lot of money if he’s the candidate — considerably more than Oliver and Hume if he chooses.

With Cutrona’s promotion to the Senate and resignation from the House, his former seat in the latter legislative body opened up.

The decision as to who would be appointed to the Nov. 5 ballot — with the Ohio House Republican Caucus agreeing to appoint whoever was selected — was in the hands of the Republican chairs and secretaries in Mahoning and Columbiana counties, which make up the district.

This was initially going to be decided in early July.

But with the House — like the Senate — having its last day of session on June 26 until after the Nov. 5 election, Republicans wanted to appoint someone who could run as the incumbent.

Republicans quickly called a meeting of party officials, donors and volunteers in the House district with the seven applicants. Tex Fischer of Boardman, a political consultant and Mahoning County Republican Party first vice chairman, was the unanimous choice.

Fischer spent part of June 26 in House session. The House doesn’t return until after the election.

A state legislator makes close to $69,000 a year. Fischer is going to get about one-third of that, about $23,000, before the House meets again. There’s more to the job than voting and serving on committees, but those are the main responsibilities.

David Skolnick is a political writer for the Youngstown Vindicator and Warren Tribune-Chronicle, sister Ogden newspapers with the Columbiana Country newspapers. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.Contact David Skolnick by email at Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.

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Johnson’s resignation led to a series of moves (2024)


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