COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton announced in a statement Thursday she is stepping down from her position at the Columbus Foundation to consider running as a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

"Many Ohioans have shared with me their concerns and the daily challenges they face. They have expressed a need for a new approach that can help them, and their communities thrive. I am humbled by the outpouring of interest and support. For that reason, I am stepping down from my role at The Columbus Foundation in order to carefully consider how I can best be of service at this crucial time. Whatever my decision, I know with absolute certainty I won’t stop working to provide healing and hope to all Ohioans," Acton wrote. 

After Sen. Rob Portman announced last week he won't rerun in 2022, more than 20 former, current, and potential office holders have either publicly or reportedly expressed interest in running.

Acton helped guide the state at the onset of the pandemic, implementing mask and stay-at-home orders alongside Gov. Mike DeWine. Her presence quickly became known as Ohio was dubbed "the leader" of the pandemic by national outlets like the New York Times and health officials. Some of her supporters still have “Dr. Amy Acton Fan Club” yard signs in their front yards, and they continue to post in a Facebook fan page dedicated to her.

Although many people commended her for her work, she also faced backlash for her orders. Many state Republicans felt the orders were too strict. Those who opposed Acton's decisions at one point protested outside of her home in Bexley. Some of them were armed. 

She left her post as the health director in June 2020 and became the Columbus Foundation's Director of Kind Columbus, which is an initiative to spread actions of kindness in the state.

If she decides to run under the Democratic Party, she could be going up against Congressman Tim Ryan (D, OH-13), who is also considering a run for Portman's seat. 

“The U.S. Senate needs another working class voice and I’m very serious about the opportunity to continue representing the people of Ohio,” Ryan told Spectrum News. 

Sen. Sherrod Brown also mentioned he had talked with Acton, Ryan, and a few others about running for the position. 

“I like all of those candidates. I would be happy with any of them as a seat mate in the U.S. Senate,” Brown said. “There is some interest among all of them, but some doesn’t mean that they’re likely to run. We’ll see.”

Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday afternoon he preferred not to discuss whether he thinks his former Health Director would serve Ohio well in the Senate.

“I’m going to stay out of Democratic primaries. No comment," he said during his news conference.


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