UPDATED 11 p.m.: Hite cites personal, family health problems for resignation

State Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, resigned Monday evening, effective immediately, citing personal and family health problems.
“We’ve got numerous health problems right now, all piling up at the same time. I just feel I need to be home,” Hite told The Courier.
Hite represented the 1st District in the Ohio Senate and was chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“I was going to be incapacitated for the next couple of months and not able to be down there when really important votes are being taken in November and December … They need an extra person in there that can replace me to vote,” he told The Courier.
Family members’ health problems also are a concern, he said.
“Now with some of the health problems in the family, I wasn’t going to be here and I just thought that was enough,” Hite said.
“But the kicker was when my wife was down in Tennessee with the grandkids for the week and I was here in Findlay in the district working on things and for one week straight it just ate at me that I couldn’t be there with them. Family is just going to be more important.”
Hite’s resignation letter said, “I look forward to focusing on my personal health and spending more time with my family.”
Hite had told the Findlay Kiwanis Club last month that he planned to run for re-election in 2018.
His abrupt resignation Monday caused talk in the capital, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
“Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, the majority floor leader, declined to comment when asked if Hite’s resignation is related to a sexual harassment complaint made by a Senate staff member or a Legislative Service Commission intern,” the Dispatch reported. “I defer to the (Senate) president at this time,” Gardner said.
John Fortney, a spokesman for Senate President Larry Obhof, “also declined to comment when asked about the swirling allegations, saying only that he has no knowledge of a formal complaint being filed with the Senate clerk or the president’s office,” the Dispatch said.
Obhof, R-Medina, said Tuesday he will set the process to pick Hite’s replacement by week’s end. Ultimately, the Senate Republican Caucus will likely have final say over who Hite’s successor will be.
State Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, is running for state treasurer in 2018 and said he will not seek Hite’s Senate seat. Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik said it is too early to say whether she is interested in the Senate seat.
The Hancock County Republican Central and Executive Committees will hold a regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday. The Senate vacancy and prospective candidates will undoubtedly come up, said Jim Baker, chairman of the county Republican Party. The local party will take direction from Obhof on how to proceed with finding and recommending candidates.
So far, no one has contacted Baker about being a candidate, he said.

Courier reporter Lou Wilin will have more on Wednesday.

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