All the candidates have also said they support a repeal of House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout bill at the center of the federal investigation that led to Householder's ouster as house speaker in July. The candidates made their case for the seat during an Oct. 10 debate that Householder was invited to participate in but did not attend.
The two-time lawmaker was charged in July with racketeering charges in the alleged bribery scheme to pass a $1.3 billion bailout of two Ohio nuclear plants. Householder was one of the driving forces behind the nuclear plants' financial rescue, which added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed over $150 million a year through 2026 to the plants near Cleveland and Toledo.
Hours after FBI agents raided Householder’s farm, U.S. Attorney David DeVillers described the ploy as likely the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme that had “ever been perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.”
Also charged were Householder's adviser Jeffrey Longstreth, longtime Statehouse lobbyist Neil Clark, former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matthew Borges and Juan Cespedes, co-founder of The Oxley Group, a Columbus-based consulting firm. All five men have pleaded not guilty.
Less than two weeks after his arrest, the House voted to remove Householder as speaker, replacing him with Republican Rep. Bob Cupp, a man that members of the GOP party have deemed the antithesis to Householder.
However, Householder has ignored calls to give up his House seat even as the federal charges loom above his reelection campaign along with the several other probes that have surfaced since, including ones brought on by the state Attorney General's office and election chief.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose has called for Householder to step down from office. He also noted how this situation is a good example of why political parties should ensure they have candidates running in every race.
Householder's Republican colleagues in the House considered removing him from the chamber immediately but, if they did so before Nov. 3, voters would be able to reelect him, and a lawmaker cannot be expelled twice. The only option now for both parties is to wait until the legislative session begins in January to consider expelling or impeaching Householder.
If reelected, Householder would be automatically removed from office if he is convicted of conspiracy to commit racketeering, as Ohio law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony or bribery charges from holding public office.
Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.