COLUMBUS — State Sen. Cliff Hite (R., Findlay) has abruptly resigned.
The resignation, effective immediately, came as a surprise given that the former Findlay High School football coach and state representative had been talking about seeking re-election to another four-year term in 2018.
"Senator Hite submitted his resignation to me on Monday evening, and I accepted it, effective immediately,” Senate President Larry Obhof (R., Medina). “I will announce an application process for selecting a replacement to the 1st Senate District seat by the end of the week."
Mr. Hite, 63, chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee and has a number of bills pending in the Senate, including those dealing with wind farm setback rules and creation of a violent offender registry. He was also involved in passage of reforms designed to reduce fertilizer runoff from farmland that contributes to Lake Erie algal blooms.
The move creates an immediate vacancy to be filled by Mr. Hite’s fellow Republicans in the Senate. Among the potential contenders would be the three state representatives in House districts that make up the 1st Senate District — Reps. Robert Sprague (R., Findlay), Robert McColley (R., Napoleon), and Craig Riedel (R., Defiance).
Mr. Sprague is the most senior of three, but he has already announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for state treasurer next year. Mr. Riedel has only been in the House a few months.
Mr. McColley, who is serving his second two-year term and at one point was considered a contender to be the next House speaker, said he will seek the Senate GOP caucus appointment.
“I think it is something I would consider,” he said. “When you look at where things are in the era of term limits, when given the opportunity to serve the people in a different capacity, I would at least consider it.”
He said Mr. Hite spoke briefly with him on Monday to let him know about the pending resignation.
Mr. Hite was first appointed to the Senate in early 2011 to replace then Sen. Stephen Buehrer, who’d been appointed administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. He was elected to his first full four-year term in 2014.
The 1st District includes much of the rural northwest corner of Ohio, including Henry, Williams, Hancock, Putnam, Defiance, Van Wert, Paulding, and Hardin counties and portions of Logan and Auglaize.