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Book gets lift from shift in House

For the first time since Vern Riffe ended his 20-year reign as Ohio Speaker of the House in 1994, Democrats are now in control of the Ohio House of Representatives.

And while that is welcomed news for Democrats across Ohio, it is particularly good news for 89th District Rep. Todd Book, whose district includes Scioto County, western Lawrence County and eastern Adams County.

A member of Democratic leadership as the Assistant Minority Leader,

Book is now poised to become the Democratic Caucus chairman. That, coupled with a new position as chairman of the prominent Rules Committee, means the four-term representative from McDermott is positioned to be a key voice in Columbus.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Book said. “We’ll now have more control of the legislative process. It’s a lot more work, but it’s a lot more fun.”

Book said the change in leadership will have a clear benefit for the district he represents.

“I’ll have a direct influence on what happens. The areas I represent will benefit because instead of being in a secondary circle of decision making, I’ll be on the inner circle of decision making,” Book said. “The district is in good position because of where I’ve been able to position myself.”

Book, however, said the shift will be advantageous to Gov. Ted Strickland, a fellow Scioto County native. Now with one of the bodies under Democratic control, Book — who noted the effective working relationship between the governor and Republican leaders — said Strickland will benefit from the more even distribution of power.

“The biggest winner might be the governor. Before he was having to deal with two Republican controlled bodies,” Book said. “There’s definitely more of a balance of power. Any piece of legislation, including the budget, has been pretty much a one-sided affair in the past.”

Book said the past two days have been filled with discussions about appointments to various committees and boards.

Besides being the chair of the Rules Committee, Book will continue his work on the Financial Institutions, Real Estate and Securities Committee, the Insurance Committee and the Civil and Commercial Law Committee.

Book is term-limited and his tenure in the house will come to an end in 2010. He said his first priority is to do the challenging work ahead of him in the house, but as for his political future beyond 2010, he said he is not certain what he will do.

“I would be disingenuous if I said I haven’t thought about it. (With term limits) you have to be thinking about your next move as soon as you’re elected,” Book said. “But I can honestly say I’m not sure.”

Book is a native of West Portsmouth and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Western Michigan University. He earned his law degree from William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law.

Book and his wife Emily have three children — Cassidy, Avery and Merideth. He is a member and an elder of the Portsmouth Second Presbyterian Church.