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Published: Friday, 5/27/2011

Ohio Senate Majority Leader Stewart leaving to head natural gas group

Denies departure linked to union law

Jimmy Stewart Jimmy Stewart
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ZANESVILLE, Ohio — A high-ranking Republican who's quitting the Ohio Senate will be heading a natural gas trade group.

The Ohio Gas Association said in a statement Thursday that Jimmy Stewart will take over as president of the 40-year-old organization on July 1.

Stewart is the Senate Majority Leader and represents a nine-county district in southeast Ohio. He said earlier this week he'd step down before the end of his term to take a private-sector job.

He denies Democratic claims that backlash over his vote in favor of Ohio's new collective bargaining law led him to look for an early departure from the Legislature.

Following an event in Zanesville on Thursday, Stewart told media outlets he remains a believer in the measure that bars public employees from striking and restricts their bargaining rights.

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