COLUMBUS -- The Ohio House will undertake an unusual hearing process in coming weeks to determine whether a current member should be unseated by his election challenger.
Republican Speaker Bill Batchelder, from Medina, announced the formation of a select committee to hear a challenge from Joshua O'Farrell, a Democrat from New Philadelphia, to his November defeat by incumbent Rep. Al Landis, a Republican from Dover.
Landis won election to the District 98 seat by a handful of votes, but O'Farrell sued alleging ballots were improperly tossed that could have changed the result. The district includes all of Tuscarawas County and part of Holmes County.
The Ohio Supreme Court sent the matter to the Ohio House for a final decision, based on provisions in the state constitution. The last time the process was used was in the late 1980s in the Ohio Senate.
"We will have a full, fair and deliberative process over the next several weeks on this election contest," Batchelder said in a released statement. "I am confident that the select committee will do their due diligence over the coming weeks in order to make a recommendation to the full House."
Members of the committee include five Republicans and four Democrats. Rep. Matt Huffman, a Republican from Lima, will serve as chairman, while Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Democrat from Kent, will serve as the ranking Democrat. State Rep. and Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern also is a member.
Batchelder indicated Wednesday that hearings would begin before the end of the month.
The final recommendation of the committee will be subject to a vote of all members of the chamber.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.