In Ohio, opponents of Republican Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens successfully defeated four of his allies in primary elections. However, they fell short by just one seat of erasing his majority in the upcoming legislative session. Nonetheless, a heated battle for control of the chamber is still on the horizon.

Stephens’ counterpart in the Legislature’s upper chamber, Senate President Matt Huffman, ran uncontested in Tuesday’s primary for a House district in western Ohio and is set to win the seat this fall. Huffman has openly expressed his desire to become speaker.

The internal conflicts within the Republican party have played out in advertisements, endorsements, and campaign donations during the primary campaign season. This rivalry traces back to Stephens’ victory in a contentious speaker race in January 2023.

Huffman, a Republican from Lima, has financially supported incumbents who opposed Stephens’ candidacy for speaker, according to campaign finance records. Some conservative senators have also endorsed challengers to Stephens’ supporters.

Stephens utilized funds from the Ohio House Republican Alliance to run ad campaigns targeting Republicans who ran against his allies, as well as those aligned with the “Merrin camp.” Merrin and his supporters are attempting to challenge Stephens’ control through a lawsuit.

Despite holding supermajorities in both chambers, Republican lawmakers struggled to pass legislation, setting a record for the lowest number of bills passed since the 1950s.

Stephens won the speakership with support from 32 Democrats and 21 state House Republicans.

Approximately half of Stephens’ original supporters, known as the “Blue 22,” faced opponents in Tuesday’s primary who received backing from the Merrin camp.

In order to maintain his majority, Stephens could only afford to lose four of the Blue 22 in the primary, which is exactly what happened. He still holds a 50-49 majority in the 99-member House.

In Tuesday’s primary, Rep. Sara Carruthers lost to challenger Diane Mullins, who secured 53% of the vote. Others lost by wider margins.

Merrin, now the Republican nominee for Ohio’s 9th Congressional District with former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the November general election.

Ohio has a history of bitter election battles for House control, including the corruption scandal involving former Speaker Larry Householder in 2018, which resulted in a 20-year prison sentence for Householder.