Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, likely will remain speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives when it opens a two year term Jan. 7. But he'll need to mend fences in his caucus.

Smith bested Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, in the speaker's race, but Householder and 25 other House Republicans stayed away from the meeting, while 34 voted for Smith. Smith said the next step is reach out to those who weren't present Thursday.

He needs 50 votes to be speaker and some might have to come from Democrats.

Thursday's action caps a six-month struggle to succeed former Republican Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, who resigned in June amid an FBI investigation. Smith was elected to serve out this session on the 11th ballot.

The dean of the caucus — the longest-serving member — typically calls a meeting well before the start of a two year legislative session so that incoming leaders can be selected and can start organizing. But the current Republican dean, Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, is a Householder supporter and has resisted calling such a meeting while Householder appeared to lack the votes that Smith had.

Democrats said Householder worked through trade unions in an attempt to attract their votes by saying Householder won't be a hostile to organized labor as Smith is. Householder previously served as speaker from 2001 to 2004.

Adding to the unusual nature of Thursday's leadership vote is that it took place during a rare, post-Christmas legislative day during a lame-duck session. Republican leaders called lawmakers back to Columbus to override several vetoes issued by Gov. John Kasich, who also is a Republican.

mschladen@dispatch.com

@martyschladen