Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman Won’t Seek Reelection

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman Won’t Seek Reelection
Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill, on Oct. 26, 2020 (Graeme Jennings/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on Monday announced he will not seek reelection in 2022, citing partisan gridlock in Congress and political polarization as the primary reasons.

"I feel fortunate to have been entrusted by the people of Ohio to represent them in the U.S. Senate. Today, I am announcing that I have made a decision not to run again in 2022," Portman said in a statement.

The Republican senator went on to say, "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."

Separately, the United States has become "increasingly polarized 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," Portman added. "This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades," he said, adding, "This is a tough time to be in public service."

Portman joins Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in retirement in 2022 in key swing states. Democrats hold a slim majority in a 50-50 Senate due to Vice President Kamala Harris's tie-breaking vote. However, Ohio in recent years has trended towards the GOP, and Republicans hold nearly every statewide office.

Portman, 65, previously served as former President George W. Bush's trade representative and budget director, representing Ohio's 22nd Congressional District in the House for seven terms, and as well as his two terms in the Senate.

In recent years, Portman has come under fire from conservatives due to his fraught relationship with former President Donald Trump. He initially endorsed Trump in 2016 but rescinded the endorsement the same year after a 2005 audio recording of Trump talking crudely with Billy Bush, nephew of former President George H.W. Bush, surfaced.

"For many of the issues I am most passionate about, I will continue to make a difference outside of the Senate, beyond 2022. In the meantime, I am hopeful that President 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," he added. "I was on the bipartisan call yesterday on a new COVID-19 package. I hope the Administration will work with us on a more targeted approach that focuses on things like vaccine distribution, testing and getting kids back to school."

The Ohio Republican did not say how he plans to vote during Trump's forthcoming impeachment trial.

“I’m a juror, it’s going to happen,” he said in his statement. “As a juror, I’m going to listen to both sides. That’s my job.”

It comes as a number of GOP senators have balked at the upcoming Trump impeachment trial, saying it's pointless to impeach a president who has left office.

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