By Sarah Ferris - 01/09/16 10:08 AM EST
Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanThe Trail 2016: Trump’s big night Portman: Trump has 'potential' to help GOP candidates Kasich doesn't regret skipping convention MORE (R-Ohio) announced Saturday that he will throw his support behind his home-state governor, John Kasich, in the GOP presidential race.
“I have known John for over 20 years and consider him a good friend,” Portman wrote in a statement released by the Kasich campaign.
Portman, who is facing a tight race this fall, had for months said he would remain neutral in the race. He will now take a leadership role in the Kasich campaign, as the national co-chair.
Portman said he made the decision after a long phone call with Kasich this week, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Portman and Kasich overlapped several years in the Ohio state legislature and were both elected statewide in 2010.
Portman is facing Democratic former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who has been backed by Democratic heavyweights like Bill Clinton. Polls from the fall show the two in a statistical tie.
Earlier this week, Portman announced that he had broken Ohio's fundraising record in 2015 with a $10 million haul.