- The Washington Times - Monday, January 25, 2021

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced on Monday that he won’t seek a third term in 2022, citing his frustration with “partisan gridlock.”

“This was not an easy decision because representing the people of Ohio has been an honor,” Mr. Portman, 65, said in a statement. “But I’ve been doing this a long time, longer than I ever intended.”

He becomes the third Senate Republican to retire in this election cycle, and his decision makes it more difficult for Republicans to win back the evenly divided chamber in 2022. Democrats hold the majority due to Vice President Kamala D. Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

Mr. Portman, who won his two Senate races by comfortable margins, said he will serve out the remaining two years of his six-year term.

The lawmaker said the increasingly partisan atmosphere influenced his decision.

“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,” Mr. Portman said. “We live in an increasingly polarized country 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. This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades.”

Mr. Portman was co-chair of the Trump campaign in Ohio last year, but was one of the Republicans who publicly accepted the election of President Biden after the Electoral College certified the results on Dec. 14. He also said after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by Trump supporters that Mr. Trump “bears some responsibility.”

It’s not clear whether Mr. Portman‘s view of Mr. Trump’s role in the riot, or his impending retirement, will affect his vote in Mr. Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial.

Possible Republican candidates for the seat include Rep.  Jim Jordan, a Trump loyalist; Ohio Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken and former state treasurer Josh Mandel.

Rep. Tim Ryan, Ohio Democrat, said Monday he’s “looking seriously” at a run for the seat but hasn’t decided yet.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, head of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, said the GOP will hold the seat and that the election “starts today.”

Republicans “will fight tirelessly in Ohio to ensure Senator Portman’s successor supports a pro-growth, pro-family, pro-Ohio agenda — not the radical left’s agenda of higher taxes, bigger government, open borders and a weakened America,” Mr. Scott said. 

Mr. Portman noted that he has been in public service for 30 years, including 12 years in the House.

“All this time, our family has kept our home in Ohio, where we raised our kids, and I have commuted back and forth to Washington,” he said. “Jane and our three children have been 100 percent supportive, but I am really looking forward to being home in Ohio full time, seeing family and friends more, and getting back to the private sector, including being able to be more involved in the community and in our family business.”

Mr. Portman said announcing his decision now “will allow whichever Republicans who choose to run plenty of time to gear up for a statewide race.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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