WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Rob Portman has spent the last 30 years making a name for himself in Ohio and Washington politics, and gradually growing more influential.
What You Need To Know
- Portman’s surprise announcement will end 30+ year career in Washington
- Portman said partisan gridlock is part of the reason he will retire
- Race to fill Portman’s seat in 2022 could see many candidates
So it surprised political watchers Monday when Portman released a lengthy statement announcing he will not run for reelection in 2022.
“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.
The 65-year-old Republican came to Washington in the 1980s and first worked for the late President George H. W. Bush as an aide before being elected to the U.S. House, where he represented Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District for 12 years.
In 2005, Portman became former President George W. Bush’s U.S. trade representative and traveled the world while sharpening his policy and negotiating skills.
He then was named Bush’s White House budget director before winning a U.S. Senate seat in 2010.
In his statement released Monday, Portman said 82 of his bills were signed into law by President Donald Trump and 68 by President Barack Obama.
Portman speaks frequently about his work to combat the opioid epidemic and human trafficking, as well as his efforts to craft the tax plan Republicans passed in 2017.
Just this year, he became the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which offers him a new perch to continue investigating China’s attempts to steal U.S. intellectual property.
In the age of President Trump, Portman seesawed between supporting the former president and condemning his more controversial moments.
Portman withdrew his endorsement of Trump in 2016 after the Access Hollywood tape surfaced showing Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. But Portman endorsed Trump again in the 2020 election, and voted against convicting him in his first impeachment trial.
In 2013, Portman made news when he announced his support for same sex marriage after his son, Will, came out as gay.
During the 2012 presidential election, Portman was reportedly on the short list to be Mitt Romney’s running mate.
Portman’s decision to retire means the 2022 Senate race in Ohio will be national news and could potentially determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
Ohio Democrats will try to win back some ground in a state President Trump won twice — Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley are among the Democrats considering running.
Ohio Republicans are hoping to keep the Senate seat in Republican hands. Among the state’s Republicans currently serving in the U.S. House, several said in statements on Monday that they are considering running for Portman’s seat: Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15); Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-6); Rep. Mike Turner (OH-10); Rep. Dave Joyce (OH-14); Rep. Brad Wenstrup (OH-2).