COLUMBUS - Ohio House Democrats have begun looking for a placeholder to complete the nine months left in Peter Ujvagi's term in the wake of prior heir-apparent Teresa Fedor's decision to stay in the Senate.
Rep. Dennis Murray (D., Sandusky) will head a screening committee to interview applicants for the interim post, knowing that Ms. Fedor (D., Toledo) is still the party's sole candidate in the Nov. 2 election to replace Mr. Ujvagi in the 47th District for the next two years.
"The thought was that we can't be down a vote in the House majority, and we didn't want to have the residents of the 47th District without representation," said Rep. Matt Szollosi (D., Toledo), the second-highest ranking member of the House.
Mr. Ujvagi resigned his seat yesterday to become Lucas County administrator. It was initially expected that Ms. Fedor, term-limited in the Senate, would be promptly named to replace him. But when it became clear fellow Senate Democrats would not swiftly appoint her replacement in the 11th Senate District, she opted to stay where she was.
Ms. Fedor said she believes she made the right decision.
"I filed my petitions to run for the 47th House District and continue to organize my campaign effort," she said. "I understand the House will seek to fill the vacant position and that the placeholder representative will fulfill the duties of voting and being a strong voice for the 47th House District."
The Senate Democratic caucus' 12 members had been sharply divided over whether to quickly fill the Fedor vacancy or wait to see who won the Democratic nomination for the seat in the May 4 primary - state Rep. Edna Brown (D., Toledo) or Toledo City Councilman Joe McNamara.
The House District includes nine Toledo wards: 5, 7, 24, and 15-20. Applications should be mailed to AJ Stokes, chief of staff, Office of House Speaker Armond Budish, 77 South High St., Columbus, OH 43215; e-mailed to District08@ohr.state.oh.us, or faxed to 614-716-6968.
A replacement is expected to be named as soon as next week before lawmakers take a two-week spring break. The application deadline is 5 p.m. Monday.
The placeholder clearly could not run in November since the deadline for filing candidate petitions has passed.
It remains unclear how many votes the placeholder lawmaker ultimately might cast. Lawmakers could break for the summer as soon as late May and, with control of the House at stake in November, may not return until after the election.