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Portman Won’t Run for Reelection, Cites Partisanship

January 25, 2021 by Dan McCue
In this image from video, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaks as the Senate reconvenes to debate the objection to confirm the Electoral College Vote from Arizona, after protesters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who has been trying to walk a political tightrope since the House impeached former President Donald Trump last week, revealed Monday morning that he will not seek re-election to a third term in 2022.

In a statement released ahead of a formal announcement of his intentions, Portman cited political partisanship as a factor in his decision.

“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,” he said.

“This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades,” he added.

Portman was first elected to the House in 1993, but he left Congress to serve as U.S. trade representative during the George W. Bush administration. He later was named director of the Office of Management and Budget.

He won election to the Senate in 2010 and won reelection handily in 2016, besting his Democratic opponent ex-Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, by nearly 21 percentage points.

Throughout his career he’s been known both as a conservative and a pragmatist. During the 2016 campaign, Real Clear Politics said the “thorny challenge of keeping distance from Trump in a state Trump [was] poised to win. Portman, in the year of the outsider, [was] even more of an insider than Clinton … Yet he [ran] a local campaign focused on issues like human trafficking and opioid addiction, and secured the endorsement of the Teamsters as well as other unions”

When it comes to the upcoming Trump impeachment trial, the 65-year-old Ohioan has tried to walk a narrow path on impeachment.

Immediately after the House impeachment vote last Wednesday, he said that Trump “bears some responsibility for what occurred,” but added he was reassured by Trump’s comment the same day that violence of any kind is unacceptable.

Though he pledged to do his duty as a juror in a Senate impeachment trial, he also said he was “concerned about the polarization in our country” and hopes to bring people together.

A top consideration during impeachment “will be what is best to help heal our country rather than deepen our divisions,” Portman said.

The Senator said Monday that he will serve the remaining two years of his term, though he wanted to make an announcement early to give other candidates the time to mount their own campaigns.

“I decided to make my announcement now because I have made up my mind,” he said. “Over the next two years, I look forward to being able to focus all my energy on legislation and the challenges our country faces rather than on fundraising and campaigning.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Portman’s retirement will be a “big loss” for the entire Senate.

“For a decade, our colleague from Ohio has been one of the most expert, most effective Senators on either side of the aisle,” McConnell continued.

“His mastery of policy, experience across branches of government, friendly disposition, and relentless focus on results have made him a powerful force for good and a champion for Ohioans under presidential administrations of both parties.

“Both the Republican conference and the institution as a whole will be worse off when Rob departs. Fortunately, in the meantime, we have two more years to continue drawing on his knowledge, his principles, and his dedication as we keep fighting for American families,” he concluded.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also paid tribute to Portman, saying the Senator had “worked tirelessly on behalf of Ohioans during his two terms in the Senate.

“Sen. Portman has been a key partner on helping Ohio with federal COVID-19 relief and other pandemic-related issues. Senator Portman and I have had similar policy priorities to help Ohio families, from tackling the Opioid crisis and the scourge of human trafficking to protecting Lake Erie and Ohio’s other natural wonders,” DeWine said.

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