Now that Valley Congressman Bill Johnson has officially accepted to become Youngstown State University's tenth president, what does this mean for his current role as US Congressman? What is the process for replacing a vacant Congressional seat in Ohio?

Johnson said he will start his new role as university president at YSU on March 15, and the primary election in Ohio is set for March 19.

So, what are the steps for filling the seat?

According to Ohio Revised Code, a vacancy in the congress is filled by the following process:

  • U.S. House of Representative: When a vacancy in the office of representative to congress occurs, the governor shall issue a writ of election directing that a special election be held to fill such vacancy in the territory entitled to fill it on a day specified in the writ. Such writ shall be directed to the board of elections within such territory.
    The board shall give notice of the time and places of holding such election as provided in R.C. 3501.03. The election shall be conducted as in case of a regular state election.

So, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine will have to order a special election to be held, which would go to the board of elections for Johnson's district. In this case, the votes for candidates for the seat will require the person to live within the district.

Johnson's current term was scheduled to end on January 3, 2025. He has been the US congressman in the Valley since 2011.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's Press Secretary, Dan Tierney, told 21 News that the process to schedule an election can't begin until Bill Johnson tenders his official resignation to the governor's office.

Tierney added that traditionally, the governor would try to schedule the special election to fill the seat during either the primary or the general election in November to save the cost needed for a special election.

However, this year, the primary will fall on March 19 because it's a presidential election year, meaning that anyone hoping to run for Johnson's seat must file 90 days before the primary, by December 20.

If Johnson resigns before that date, the election to fill that seat could happen in March. 

But if Johnson's resignation letter is received after that date, the governor would need to order a special election for May or August for the 11 counties within the Ohio 6th District, or the seat would remain vacant until the November election.

Last week, 21 News reached out to Ohio Sen. Mike Rulli-District 33 - to ask if he would be interested in seeking Johnson's seat if Johnson were to accept YSU's offer. Rulli tells 21 News that sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday, he will have a statement on his plans.

Rulli told 21 News he is "considering all options" but is definitely considering seeking the position.

Trumbull Co. Commissioner Denny Malloy is also interested in the seat, however, said he would need to find the right candidate to fill his seat, as the people of the county are his first concern.

Malloy said he has spent the last 25 years working and playing throughout the 6th District and has his "finger on the pulse of the people," from the region, saying he is exploring the option at running for congressman.