Portman won’t run for reelection
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) will not seek reelection to a third term in 2022, he announced Monday morning.
Portman plans to make the announcement at a press conference in Cincinnati. In a statement, Portman cited political partisanship as a factor in his decision.
“We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are being pushed further to the right and further to the left, and that means too few people who are actively looking to find common ground,” he said. “This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades.”
Portman, 65, has spent the better part of three decades in public office. First elected to the U.S. House in 1993, he left Congress to serve in the George W. Bush administration, first as U.S. trade representative and then as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
He won election to the Senate in 2010 and handily won reelection in 2016.
Portman built a career as a pragmatist, though one who rarely broke with conservative colleagues. In his statement, he touted 82 bills signed into law by President Trump and 68 signed by President Obama.
He said he will serve the remaining two years of his term, though he wanted to make an announcement early to give other candidates the time to mount their own campaigns.
“I decided to make my announcement now because I have made up my mind,” he said. “Over the next two years, I look forward to being able to focus all my energy on legislation and the challenges our country faces rather than on fundraising and campaigning.”
Portman’s exit will open a potentially competitive seat, albeit in a state that has trended toward Republicans in recent years. Republicans hold every statewide office except the seat held by Portman’s colleague, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).
Republicans on Monday speculated that several members of Ohio’s delegation to Congress would explore the prospect of replacing Portman. Former Rep. Jim Renacci (R) is a potential candidate, as is Josh Mandel, a former state Treasurer. Both Renacci and Mandel have lost bids against Brown in the past.
On the Democratic side, early buzz surrounded Nan Whaley, the mayor of Dayton who briefly ran for governor in 2018. Democrats also pointed to Rep. Tim Ryan (D), who holds a blue collar House district in northeast Ohio that may be erased in the next round of redistricting.
David Pepper, a former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party and a Hamilton County Commissioner, is also said to be interested in running.
Portman is the third Republican senator to say he will not seek another term next year, following Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).