- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio won re-election Tuesday after pulling off a master class in distancing himself from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, while retaining support from Republicans and even bringing in labor unions that shirked his well-known Democratic opponent early in the campaign.

Networks called the race for Mr. Portman within minutes after the polls closed in the Buckeye State.

Mr. Portman was a top target for Democrats heading into the year, and the party recruited a former Ohio governor, Ted Strickland, to run against him.

Yet Mr. Portman swiftly figured out how to handle what pundits call the “Trump effect” — the GOP presidential nominee’s high negative ratings hurting the party in down-ballot races — and led Mr. Strickland by double digits for long stretches of the campaign, forcing Democrats to pull money from the race and and essentially concede defeat as they tried to reverse a 54-46 deficit in the Senate.

Mr. Portman had intended to support the “Republican nominee,” but reversed course after a 2005 videotape surfaced in which Mr. Trump brags about groping women.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Portman devoted himself to combating opioid overdose deaths from prescription drugs and heroin and ensuring that current and former Teamster retirees have a say in proposed changes to their pension fund, which is projected to become insolvent in 2025.

He was rewarded for his efforts in July when the Ohio Conference of Teamsters endorsed Mr. Portman over Mr. Strickland, even as the national union endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Congratulations to Senator Rob Portman on his resounding victory. Whether it’s his leadership to combat the heroin and prescription drug epidemic, effort to end the scourge of human trafficking, or his commitment to always fight for Ohio workers, there is no better choice to represent Ohio’s priorities in Washington,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi Republican and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Senator Portman’s unmatched record of leadership and work across party lines exemplifies a true public servant,” Mr. Wicker said.

For his part, Mr. Strickland said the results were “not what I hoped for.”

“But I am so grateful to those who have worked so hard to support our effort and for the opportunity to speak out over the course of this campaign on behalf of hardworking Ohioans,” he said in a campaign statement.

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