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Ohio Sen. Rob Portman not running for reelection

Portman was first elected to the Senate in 2010

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, plans to retire rather than seek a third term in 2022.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, plans to retire rather than seek a third term in 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced Monday that he is not running for a third term in 2022.

“This was not an easy decision because representing the people of Ohio has been an honor,” Portman said in a statement. “But I’ve been doing this a long time, longer than I ever intended.”

Portman served in the House for 12 years before joining the executive branch in George W. Bush’s administration as U.S. trade representative and director of the Office Management and Budget. Portman was first elected to the Senate in 2010.

Portman easily defeated Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland in 2016, winning a second Sente term by 21 points as Donald Trump won Ohio by 8 points in the presidential race. Trump carried Ohio by the same margin in 2020.

Portman stressed in a statement that he will remain active in the Senate as the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“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.

“This is a tough time to be in public service. For many of the issues I am most passionate about, I will continue to make a difference outside of the Senate, beyond 2022,” he said. “In the meantime, I am hopeful that President [Joe] Biden will follow through on his inaugural pledge to reach across the aisle, and I am prepared to work with him and his administration if he does.”

A number of Republicans could make a run for Portman’s seat. Ohio is expected to lose a congressional seat due to reapportionment, so that could factor into whether members of the current House delegation opt to run for Senate. 

Rep. Steve Stivers, the former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman who has criticized Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection but did not vote to impeach Trump, is considering a Senate run, according to people familiar with his thinking.

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, who has built a national profile as a staunch Trump ally, could make a bid for the seat. Other potential Republican candidates from the House include Rep. Bill Johnson, an Air Force veteran first elected in 2010; and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.

Three GOP statewide officials are potential candidates to watch: Lt. Gov. Jon A. Husted, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Attorney General Dave Yost. The Cincinnati Enquirer also named Jordan, Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel and author J.D. Vance as potential Senate candidates. 

Portman’s exit could also expand the Democratic field, causing some eyeing the governor’s race to shift to the now-open Senate race, such as Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan or Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. Former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper, a former Hamilton County Commissioner, is also considered a potential candidate. 

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