Ohio Sen. Rob Portman Won’t Run For Re-Election In 2022

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOSU) — Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced that he will not seek re-election in 2022, blaming the worsening “partisan gridlock” in Congress.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman [Statehouse News Bureau]
“This was not an easy decision because representing the people of Ohio has been an honor,” Portman said in a press conference Monday. “But I’ve been doing this a long time, longer than I ever intended.”

As Ohio’s junior senator, Portman was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 and won again in 2016 against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. Before that, he served 12 years in the U.S. House representing Ohio’s 2nd District near Cincinnati, then as U.S. Trade Representative and Office of Budget and Management director in the Bush administration.

On Monday, however, the 65-year-old gave no hint as to what will come next, saying only that he plans to stay involved in public policy.

“I’m going to work like hell for the next two years,” Portman said.

Portman touted his track record over the last decade, with 68 of his bills signed into law by President Obama and 82 signed by President Trump, including laws on the addiction crisis and human trafficking. But he said the increased polarization of the country is making the job of passing legislation more difficult.

“It’s gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy issues, and that has contributed to my decision,” Portman said.

Portman said he’s making his announcement now because it will allow Republicans hoping to replace him plenty of time to prepare for a statewide contest. While Ohio’s senior senator, Sen. Sherrod Brown, is a Democrat who last won in 2018, Ohio has trended significantly red in recent elections – with Republicans controlling all statewide executive offices and controlling supermajorities in both chambers of the Statehouse.

“There’s plenty of candidates out there,” Portman said. “I don’t have one in particular that I’m prepared to talk about today, but I know there will be plenty of interest.”

Ohio Democrats have already begun fundraising for someone to oppose Portman in the general election, although no candidates have yet to declare in the race.

In the upcoming Senate impeachment trial of former President Trump, Portman reiterated his position that he will listen as a juror to both sides of the argument. Following the January 6 insurrection by pro-Trump extremists at the U.S. Capitol, Portman said that Trump himself “bears some responsibility” and supports an investigation into the attack.

Portman also said he doesn’t support eliminating the legislative filibuster in the Senate, as some Democrats have recently suggested, saying that it requires a party to get support from the other side in order to pass laws. Portman said he hopes Biden continues to reach across the aisle to pass additional COVID-19 aid and other priorities.