Despite spending more than four hours behind closed doors, House Republicans on Tuesday were unable to gather 50 votes to support a new speaker.

Deep divisions within the GOP caucus were on display as Rep. Ryan Smith of Bidwell got the majority of the votes but fell short of the 50 needed to be elected House speaker by the full chamber. That vote had been scheduled for Wednesday, but it was canceled Tuesday evening.

Smith, a three-term Republican from rural Gallia County, wants to replace Cliff Rosenberger, who abruptly resigned in mid-April amid an FBI probe into his overseas travel.

Rep. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, dean of the caucus and the acting speaker, said he was heading back to his office to try to figure out a way to find 50 votes to support Smith, who was challenged by Reps. Dorothy Pelanda of Marysville and Andy Thompson of Marietta.

Pelanda and Thompson hope to be named speaker only through the end of December. Smith is interested in continuing as speaker through the next two-year session — however, he has been embroiled in a bitter fight with Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, a former House speaker and proficient fundraiser, who also wants the job in 2019.

Considering the divisiveness of the Smith-Householder leadership fight, some argued that a short-term speaker would give the caucus a better chance to unify as they go into the November election.

Sources said Smith initially got 42 of 65 votes. Normally, Schuring said, when a speaker candidate gets a majority of the caucus votes, the full caucus agrees to support that person.

But when Schuring asked how many might support him on the House floor Wednesday, Smith reportedly had just 47 votes.

"I don't think its an overstatement: These are historic times. We've never seen anything like this," Schuring said, referring to a midterm speaker vote following a resignation under questionable circumstances.

A source said 18 members — Householder loyalists including Rep. Jim Hughes, R-Upper Arlington, or others who felt mistreated by Rosenberger — are refusing to vote for Smith. If that holds, Smith cannot get to 50.

Prior to the vote Tuesday, Householder huddled with at least a dozen House members in the hallway outside the meeting room.

The full 99-member House votes for the new speaker, but Republicans do not want to rely on Democratic votes.

"We're close enough that I think we can get there," Schuring said.

He will "try to figure out what we need to do to convince some to be part of the majority caucus and be part of that magic number. If you're going to lead in this state and legislate in this state, you have to have 50 votes, and that's what we're endeavoring to achieve."

Democrats have indicated that many of them might not vote for any GOP speaker nominee because of the unanswered questions surrounding the FBI probe.

Without a speaker, the House cannot address legislation Wednesday, said caucus spokesman Brad Miller. The House calendar already has 15 bills, including one dealing with payday lending regulations. That reportedly became an issue during the speaker discussions; some anti-Smith members wanted the bill taken off the calendar. The bill is aimed at curbing what some say are some of the highest loan interest rates in the nation.

Smith declined to comment as he came out of the meeting Tuesday.

Smith, a financial adviser, has been chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee for the past two sessions, taking a lead role in crafting the two-year state budget.

But as a friend of Rosenberger, who backed Smith’s leadership effort before his resignation, Smith has inherited some of the former speaker's enemies.

Some, including Householder, have been critical of Smith and the spending of Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee money to help Republicans in nearly a dozen open primary House races. That money, Householder has said, should be used only to help incumbents, or help Republicans win seats in November.

In about a dozen primary races where Householder- and Smith-backed candidates squared off, Householder’s team won nearly all of them. Major Householder donors poured money into his candidates’ campaigns, while he and Smith also benefited from spending by at least five super-PACs that ran largely negative ads.

Householder’s team has said he has about 20 primary winners who are willing to back him after the November election, setting up another tough leadership vote for House Republicans late this year, regardless of whether Smith is elected speaker in the short run.