Joe Schiavoni stepping down as Ohio Senate minority leader to focus on campaign

By David Skolnick


Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni resigned his leadership position, effective next Wednesday, to concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign.

The members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus on Wednesday unanimously elected Kenny Yuko of Richmond Heights, D-25th, to replace Schiavoni as minority leader.

“It’s been an honor to serve as minority leader for the past three years,” said Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd. “I am proud of how our caucus has fought to give all Ohioans a fair shot and stood up for our schools and communities in the face of Republican budget cuts. Together, we have been a strong voice for millions of Ohioans at the Statehouse, and I know that will continue under Sen. Yuko’s leadership.”

The Senate minority leader typically serves only as the ranking Democrat on the rules and reference committee.

Schiavoni, who served as minority leader since December 2013, will continue to represent Mahoning and Columbiana counties in the 33rd District.

There are nine Democrats in the 33-member Ohio Senate.

“I told caucus members last month to discuss who they wanted to replace me as leader,” Schiavoni said. “On the campaign side, you don’t have time to run for governor, recruit candidates for the Senate and raise money. I can concentrate on my legislative work and the Mahoning Valley, and on the campaign side, I’m focusing on running for governor. Every single night I’m in a different city campaigning.”

Schiavoni confirmed in February he was running in 2018 for the Democratic nomination for governor. Since then, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton and ex-state Rep. Connie Pillich have declared their candidacy for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Effective next Wednesday, Schiavoni will become ranking Democrat on the government oversight and reform; and the transportation, commerce and workforce committees. He’ll also be a member of the education; insurance and financial institutions; local government, public safety and veterans affairs committees and serve on the finance primary and secondary education subcommittee.

Democratic Senate leaders running for higher office have traditionally stepped down from their positions, but Schiavoni said that didn’t factor into his decision.

Yuko, elected to the Senate in 2014 after eight years in the Ohio House, did not serve in Senate Democratic leadership positions before his election to be minority leader.

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