Senator Jimmy StewartSenate Majority Floor Leader Jimmy Stewart (R-Athens) is in a real bind on SB 5.  On one hand, he’s been able to rise in the ranks in the Senate leadership.  He’s managed to hold onto a seat that contains Ohio University in the district by positioning himself as a conservative on most issues, except when organized labor is involved.

In short, SB 5 is Stewart’s worse nightmare, and it can’t come at a worse time.  Stewart is up for re-election next year.  And he knows that having the Majority Floor Leader opposing a bill introduced by his Majority Whip, supported by his Senate President, and supported by a Governor from his political party, isn’t going to fly.

The Athens News is reporting that Stewart is still on the fence, refusing to commit to a position on SB 5, in the hope that he can broker a deal between organized labor (or parts of it) and Shannon Jones.

That’s like trying to build a bridge from New York to London, and Stewart is trying to do it over a weekend.

“I have had discussions with local and state labor leaders as well as the bill sponsor and committee chairman,” he wrote. “I’ve also heard from many who support all or parts of the bill including officials from within the state university system.”

Stewart said both sides have made some good points.

“I still need to get some more details from some in the labor community I’ve met with but have every reason to think I will get these soon,” he wrote. “I’m working with Sen. Jones to address some of the concerns I’ve heard.”

He added that the bill is early in its process and there will likely be changes made as it moves forward.

All indications seem to be pointing that tomorrow is going to be a HUGE news day as it appears that the only way they can get SB 5 passed is to introduce amendments that will substantively change the bill, or twist Stewart’s arm enough that he puts partisan loyalty over what could be his own political self-preservation.

Here’s what makes tomorrow incredibly uncertain:

  1. Can the GOP majority strike a balance that earns them enough of the holdouts without costing them any votes on their right flank?
  2. Are any of the holdouts looking for some labor support to any compromise?  If so, what assurances do any such union has that the more conservative House will keep to the deal?
  3. Will the Administration agree to such a deal…
  4. Or will the Administration push to just delay any action of the bill and just trying to jam it through the budget?

We can expect a flurry of activity and confusion tomorrow.  Stay tuned…

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