Warren G. Harding was the last Ohioan in the White House (1921-23). Among Harding’s characteristics, some quite positive, was a zesty sex life. Coincidentally, Harding was born in today’s 87th Ohio House District, whose most recent incumbent, ex-Rep. Wes Goodman, a Cardington Republican, resigned Nov. 14, two days short of Goodman’s one-year anniversary as an Ohio House member.
Speaker Clifford Rosenberger, a Clarksville Republican, said in a statement that he asked Goodman to resign because of Goodman’s “involvement in inappropriate behavior in his state office” (in the state’s Riffe Center, across from the Statehouse). Goodman “acknowledged and confirmed the allegations,” Rosenberger said. The “inappropriate behavior,” The Columbus Dispatch reported, “involved a male in a consensual situation.”
Goodman, who is married, was considered a “family values” Republican. He was once an aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, an Urbana Republican. Goodman, in a three-candidate 2016 primary, won the 87th District’s GOP nomination. Democrats didn’t field anyone, so Goodman won the seat unopposed.
The House seat was vacant already because Republican Rep. Jeffrey McClain had resigned to take a job with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. So just after the 2016 election, in a 60-0 roll-call on Nov. 16, 2016, House Republicans elected Goodman to serve the remaining six weeks of McClain’s term.
The district is composed of Morrow (Mount Gilead), Crawford (Bucyrus) and Wyandot (Upper Sandusky) counties, and parts of Marion and Seneca counties. Before this month’s developments, Goodman was best known for supporting a bid to freeze Medicaid expansion enrollment, although the 87th District isn’t exactly affluent: Per-capita income in each of its counties is less than the statewide per-capita ($26,953).
Goodman wasn’t the first and won’t be the last officeholder of either party to allegedly conduct his or her life differently than the way he or she demands others live theirs. But because stories about the Goodman matter are all over the Internet, House Republicans’ anxiety meters are likely rising.
Worry No. 1 is maintaining a GOP majority next November. Rosenberger racked up a record-setting 66-33 GOP majority in the 99-seat House. Given Republican-rigged districts and Republicans’ fundraising skills, you’d think a 16-seat edge beyond a 50-vote majority would cushion potential GOP losses.
But this hasn’t gone unnoticed in Columbus: True, Virginia sure isn’t Ohio; Hillary Clinton carried it last year. Still, the commonwealth’s 100-seat House of Delegates has been solidly Republican.
But at Nov. 7’s election, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Republicans ended up with “a slim 51-49 [Virginia House] majority after getting hammered … in a wave election that saw Democrats pick up at least 15 … seats.” Depending on a recount, the Virginia House’s party margin could be 50-50, the paper reported. That surely stokes jitters in Columbus.
Then there’s the contest to succeed Rosenberger as House speaker. He’s term-limited out of the House in December 2018. Contending to succeed him are Reps. Larry Householder, of Perry County’s Glenford, speaker from 2001 through 2004, and Ryan Smith, of Gallia County’s Bidwell. Smith chairs the House’s most important committee, the budget-writing Finance Committee. Term limits mean Smith could only be speaker for one term (two years); Householder could potentially serve three terms (six years).
Key fact: The next speaker will be picked by House members elected in November 2018 – House members whose party wins 50 or more seats. Till then, that means a GOP candidate who calls Householder or Smith will get a callback.
Those factors (Goodman; re-election jitters; the Householder-Smith joust) are the Ohio House’s stories-inside-the-story for the next 12 months. Columbus chatter about “policy” and “principles” is just a cover for what’s really in play: Power.