Rep. Bill Johnson unsuccessfully sought to become House Budget Committee chairman
By David Skolnick
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson’s bid to become House Budget Committee chairman was unsuccessful, and he’s ruled out a run for the Senate.
Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, was among three Republican candidates for the chairmanship. The others were Reps. Steve Womack of Arkansas and Rob Woodall of Georgia.
A Republican steering committee heard from all three candidates late Tuesday and endorsed Womack for the position. The full House Republican Conference will now vote on the chairman with it considered – even by Johnson – a foregone conclusion the GOP will back Womack.
Johnson said Wednesday, “I congratulate Rep. Womack on his designation as the next chairman, and I look forward to working with him, and all of the members of the committee, as we continue the effort to promote a budget that not only reigns in spending, but also promotes pro-growth policies that create opportunities for hard-working families across the country.”
The position opened because Diane Black, a Republican from Tennessee, is stepping down to focus on her gubernatorial campaign in her home state.
Meanwhile, Johnson ruled out a potential run for U.S. Senate. He was mentioned as a possible candidate after state Treasurer Josh Mandel’s decision Friday to withdraw from the Republican primary for the position held by Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat.
Instead, Johnson will seek a fifth two-year term to the 18-county 6th District, which includes all of Columbiana County and southern Mahoning County.
“Over the last few years, many people have encouraged me to run for Senate, but I’m focused right now on representing those I serve in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio,” he said. “However, I believe Sen. Brown votes far to the left of the vast majority of Ohioans. Ohioans would be better served by a senator who votes with them in mind rather than the liberal Washington establishment.”
Currently, investment banker Mike Gibbons of the Cleveland area is the leading Republican candidate for the position.
U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who is running for governor, has said he would consider seeking the Senate post if the White House asked him to do so. That encouragement appears to have happened Wednesday.
There are also reports that J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling book “Hillbilly Elegy,” is mulling a bid for the Senate seat.