A Republican Ohio Representative announced on Twitter Monday that he is leaving Congress next month to become the president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, giving the GOP at least temporarily one fewer vote in the narrowly divided House of Representatives.
To lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), 56 is resigning from Congress, deciding against running for Senate and creating a special election in his safe red seat.
Stiver, who was first elected in 2010, served as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2018 midterm cycle and had been a close ally of House leadership.
He announced Monday morning that he will leave Congress on May 16 to serve in a new role as president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. The state’s 15th Congressional District, which he has represented continuously since 2011, leans heavily toward Republicans.
“It has been my honour and privilege to serve the people of Ohio’s 15th Congressional District,” said Stivers in a statement early Monday.
“Throughout my career in public service I’ve worked to promote policies that drive our economy forward, get folks to work, and put our country’s fiscal house in order. “
“That is why I am looking forward to this new opportunity with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, where I can continue my efforts to support free enterprise and economic growth here in Ohio,” he added.
Stivers confirmed to POLITICO that he would not be running for Senate. He had been seriously considering a bid and had raised nearly $1.4 million in the first quarter of this year in anticipation of a potential run. A handful of Republicans are already running in the crowded primary to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman, and several others are considering bids.
News of Stivers’ decision was first reported by Punchbowl News.
His departure will create a special election in a deep-red seat in central Ohio that backed former President Donald Trump by double-digit margins in both 2016 and 2020. It is not likely to be a competitive race, though Stivers’ departure will ease some concern by Democratic leaders over their narrow majority, which has been thinned further by other vacancies. The House is currently split between 218 Democrats and 212 Republicans.
There are five vacancies, four of which were created by the departures of Democratic members.
Ohio is already hosting another special congressional election to fill the seat of former Rep. Marcia Fudge, now secretary of Housing and Urban Development for President Joe Biden. That race isn’t taking place until November, with primaries in August.
Currently, the House balance is 218 Democrats and 212 Republicans with five vacancies. With Stivers leaving, Republicans would have 211. A date for a special election to fill the seat has yet to be determined, a decision left to Ohio’s GOP Gov. Mike DeWine.
While Stivers is the first Republican House member to announce he’s resigning from office soon, five others have said they’ll be leaving the house at the end of the term, including two who are seeking higher offices.
Three Democrats have already resigned from the House to join the Biden administration, and three others have said they won’t run again in 2022.
The state’s 15th congressional district, which includes parts of Columbus and its suburbs, as well as more rural areas, has a distinctive Republican bent. Former President Donald Trump won 56.3% in the district in 2020, improving a bit from 2016. Stivers outperformed Trump with 63% last November in the district.
Stivers’ new position at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce also essentially rules out the possibility that Stivers would enter the competitive Republican primary for the US Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman. That is expected to be one of the most hotly contested Senate contests of the next campaign cycle.
First elected in 2010, Stivers serves on the Financial Services Committee.
He also chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans, during the 2018 election cycle, when his party lost 40 seats.
Striver has served in the Ohio state senate before joining Congress and also a member of the Ohio Army National Guard and earned a Bronze Star for his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar and Djibouti.
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