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Portman planned exit sets off Ohio free-for-all

Portman planned exit sets off Ohio free-for-all

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanRepublican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate Portman on Trump's dominance of GOP: Republican Party's policies are 'even more popular' MORE's (R-Ohio) announcement on Monday that he won't seek reelection next year is shaking up Ohio politics and quickly prompting other members of the state's congressional delegation to express interest in running for the open seat.

Within a few hours of Portman’s announcement, four House Republicans — Reps. Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerSunday shows preview: CDC school reopening guidance stirs debate; Texas battles winter freeze Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel jumps into Senate race Democrats will expand their Senate majority in 2022 MORE, Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversRepublican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote House panel spars over GameStop frenzy, trading apps Former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken launches Senate bid MORE, David JoyceDavid JoyceThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Which path will Democrats take on COVID-19 bill? Jim Jordan says he won't run for Senate in 2022 Ohio lieutenant governor won't run for Portman's Senate seat MORE and Brad WenstrupBrad Robert WenstrupFormer Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel jumps into Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Which path will Democrats take on COVID-19 bill? Jim Jordan says he won't run for Senate in 2022 MORE — indicated that they are considering running for the now-open seat.

And on the Democratic side, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanTim Ryan: Prosecutors reviewing video of Capitol tours given by lawmakers before riot Acting chief acknowledges police were unprepared for mob Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE said that he hadn’t made a decision yet but is “looking seriously at it” after being “overwhelmed” by supporters encouraging him to run for Senate. 

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Another Democratic member of Ohio’s House delegation, Rep. Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyBlack Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head Harris holds first meeting in ceremonial office with CBC members On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE, said she has “not made any decisions on next steps.” If Beatty chose to run, she’d be angling to become Ohio’s first Black senator. 

Still others in the Ohio political establishment or the state’s 16-member House delegation could be in the mix, setting up the possibility of a crowded GOP primary. Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanJim Jordan calls for House Judiciary hearing on 'cancel culture' CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and a prominent ally of former President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE, could also be a contender.

Stivers, the former chairman of the House GOP campaign arm, is considering a run, according to a source familiar with his thinking.

Turner said in a statement that “as numerous people have reached out to me, I will continue to look to the opportunity where I can best serve our community, state and country,” while Wenstrup said that “over the coming weeks, I look forward to talking with my family, Ohio Republicans, and supporters about how I can best continue to serve our community, our state, and our country.”

Joyce, for his part, said that “there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for lots of folks, myself among them, to consider their options moving forward, but today is Rob’s day.”

Democrats hold a narrow majority in an evenly split Senate thanks to Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote. They already faced a somewhat favorable Senate map in 2022 with no incumbent senators running for reelection in states that Trump won in November but will still be defending 14 seats in their fragile majority.

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Republicans, meanwhile, will be defending 20 seats, including two seats in states that President Biden won: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And all of the three open Senate seats so far are currently held by the GOP.  

Portman is the third swing-state GOP senator to announce he won't be running for reelection in 2022. GOP Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrChamber of Commerce labels Biden removal of NLRB general counsel 'extreme' Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence MORE (N.C.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.) are also both retiring.   

While Ohio has long been considered a swing state, it is increasingly trending more favorably for Republicans.  

Trump remains popular in Ohio, where he won by 8 points over Biden in November. And Republicans currently hold all of the statewide offices except for Democratic Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownMedicare loophole for screening colonoscopies is fixed — What does this mean for patients? Republican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE’s seat.

Portman, a pragmatist and longtime fixture in GOP national politics who will be the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, won reelection handily in 2016 by 21 points. Portman was first elected to the House in 1993 and left in 2005 to serve as U.S. trade representative and later the director of the Office of Management and Budget under then-President George W. Bush.

Portman pointed to legislative gridlock as a factor in his decision to retire.

“I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision,” Portman said in a statement.

“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. This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades,” Portman added.

Members of Ohio’s congressional delegation aren’t the only possible candidates for the Senate. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance are also considered potential contenders on the GOP side.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper could also be in the mix for the Democratic primary.  

But if any of the names floated on Monday don’t end up running for Senate, there’s still another statewide office up for grabs in 2022. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWineMike DeWineStates paying billions in fraudulent unemployment claims Governors mark 'Ronald Reagan Day' Reports of unemployment fraud increase as states mail out tax forms MORE, a Republican, is up for reelection next year.

Ryan, who has served in the House since 2003, has passed on statewide campaigns before. He previously ran for president in the 2020 cycle but dropped out in October 2019 after his campaign failed to gain traction in the crowded Democratic primary.

More recently, Ryan has been leading efforts to investigate the security failures during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol as the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the Capitol Police.

But a statewide run may hold more appeal for Ryan this time given that Ohio is expected to lose a House seat in 2022 and his district has become increasingly less Democratic.

Former President Obama won Ryan’s district by 27.5 points in 2012, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton: Allegations against Cuomo 'raise serious questions,' deserve probe Clinton, Pelosi holding online Women's Day fundraiser with Chrissy Teigen, Amanda Gorman Media circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden MORE won by 6.5 points in 2016 and Biden won by about 3 points in November.

While Ryan has not yet decided on whether to launch a Senate campaign, he still made an effort to fundraise off of Portman's announcement on Monday and asked supporters to “chip in today to fund our early ground game.”

“Ohio will be the center of the political map in 2022,” the fundraising email stated. “Make no mistake, this is a must-win seat for Democrats if we’re going to hold the Senate in 2022!”

Al Weaver contributed.