Photo: Fred Squillante, AP
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — There were some whispers among the Republican caucus that Bob Cupp should be the person to lead the Ohio House. It was 2018. The federal investigation into the previous House speaker had left the dais empty for months and the chamber at a standstill.
But Cupp, who has served in all three branches of state government, demurred. It wasn’t the right time.
Fast forward two years and two House speakers, Cupp’s moment had arrived. The conservative Republican and former Ohio Supreme Court justice was elected July 30 to lead the House in what the state Attorney General says will be “the greatest challenge of his career.”
The house speaker remains one of the most powerful political posts in state government. The speaker has the ability to block or move legislation in addition to helping determine how the state spends billions of dollars earmarked for health care, education, criminal justice and other government programs.
Cupp takes reign over the House during an unprecedented moment of division and tribulation for Ohio and the nation. His predecessor, fellow GOP state Rep. Larry Householder, was indicted earlier this summer on federal bribery charges in what prosecutors called the ‘largest bribery, money-laundering scheme’ in state history.
Cupp, a 69-year-old anti-abortion, pro-gun rights conservative, took Householder’s seat by one vote in the GOP-controlled House, with every single Democrat and a few Republicans voting against him.