Acton Considering Bid for Portman’s Senate Seat

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Dr. Amy Acton, former director of the Ohio Department of Health, is leaving her position at The Columbus Foundation amid speculation she is considering a bid for U.S. Senate. 

Acton said she is stepping down from her current role at the foundation to “carefully consider” how she can “best be of service in this crucial time,” according to a statement issued Thursday morning.

“Many Ohioans have shared with me their concerns and the daily challenges they face. They have expressed a need for a new approach that can help them, and their communities thrive,” she said. 

Acton, a Youngstown native, acknowledged speculation about her “possible interest” in running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rob Portman, who said last week he would not seek re-election. 

Shortly after Portman’s announcement, media outlets including The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and Axios reported that Acton was considering a Senate bid. 

Acton was named director of the Ohio Department of Health by Gov. Mike DeWine in February 2019. As his lead adviser on Ohio’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, she became a familiar face to Ohioans during televised daily briefings.

She also was the target of critics who opposed the business shutdowns and other measures taken to stop the spread of the virus. At one point, her home in Bexley was targeted by protestors. 

Acton, who is Jewish, also was subjected to anti-Semitic slurs and in June stepped down as ODH director, though she served for a time as an adviser to the governor before departing that role as well. In August, she joined The Columbus Foundation, where she previously worked before joining the DeWine administration, as director of Kind Columbus.

During her tenure with ODH, Acton, who urged Ohioans to “don your cape” and later to “don your mask” to fight COVID-19, inspired young girls to dress up as her, the creation of a bobblehead and a Facebook fan club group that responded affirmatively last week to news that she might run for U.S. Senate.  

“I am humbled by the outpouring of interest and support,” Acton said in her statement “Whatever my decision, I know with absolute certainty I won’t stop working to provide healing and hope to all Ohioans.” 

Image via AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.