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Shakeup in Statehouse

Associated Press • May 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM

State Rep. Armond Budish's resignation as House minority leader comes as he considers whether to run for the head of the state's largest county. He is term-limited and can't run for the House next year.

The House Democratic caucus picked Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard of Columbus as its new minority leader on Tuesday night.

Budish, of Beachwood, has led House Democrats for five years. He served as the Ohio House speaker for two years after the party won control of the chamber in 2008.

Budish said in a statement Tuesday that he's resigning to allow for a smoother transition ahead of his departure.

He also told The Plain Dealer newspaper Monday that he has been weighing a bid for Cuyahoga County executive for months. Democratic Executive Ed FitzGerald is challenging Republican Gov. John Kasich in 2014.

"I can't give a date on when I would announce a run," Budish said. "I hope sooner rather than later."

Budish's resignation was effective Tuesday night, though he'll continue to serve in the House.

Heard said in a statement that being selected Democratic leader is "an exceptional opportunity and responsibility."

House Democrats also were losing their assistant minority leader. Rep. Matt Szollosi of Toledo is resigning his seat at the end of the month to become executive director of the Affiliated Construction Trades of Ohio, an industry group funded by union construction workers.

Szollosi was replaced on the leadership team by Rep. Debbie Phillips of Athens.

The four-member Democratic leadership team also includes Michael Ashford of Toledo as Democratic whip and Dan Ramos of Lorain as assistant whip. Ramos becomes the first Latino member of the leadership team in the history of the Ohio House.

Republicans regained power of the House in 2010 and currently hold a 60-39 seat advantage.

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