Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, R-Medina, was honored Thursday with the John M. Ashbrook Award at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.
The award, named after former U.S. Rep. John M. Ashbrook, of Ohio, is given to an individual each year at the conference who upholds the ideals of a limited constitutional government as championed by Ashbrook, who died in 1982.
In addition to his public service, Ashbrook also helped found the American Conservative Union.
At the conference this year, organizers also celebrated 50 years of the ACU, said Mike Dittoe, a spokesman for Batchelder who accompanied him to Washington.
At a reception for Batchelder on Wednesday evening, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Batchelder exemplifies the principals of the late Ashbrook.
“As a person who defends those very principles every day in the people’s House, I find that nobody deserves this award more than Bill Batchelder,” said Boehner, who won the award in 2011. “During his more than 30 years of public service in the Ohio House, Bill has led Republicans to a supermajority and through a state budget crisis, earning the respect of Republicans and Democrats along the way.
“Anyone who has ever served with Bill Batchelder knows that when he gets up and speaks on the House floor, everyone listens. As his legislative career comes to a close, I know his presence in the Ohio House will be greatly missed.”
Batchelder cannot run again for his House seat because of term limits.
Roger Beckett, executive director of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, said Batchelder is responsible for a “dramatic turnaround” in Ohio.
“Through the time he has taken to be a mentor to so many, he has built something much larger than himself and something that will be a part of Ohio and American politics for generations to come,” Beckett said.
Batchelder, who knew Ashbrook, thanked the Ashbrook Center and its board for the award.
“As we remember John Ashbrook today and tomorrow, I just want to say that his greatness, his courage, was something unbelievable and we were really honored as Ohioans that he was one of our congressmen,” Batchelder said.
Ronald Reagan was the first recipient of the Ashbrook award in 1986 and former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell received the award in 2004.
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.