Portman Won’t Seek Re-Election to Senate Seat

CINCINNATI, Ohio – U.S. Sen. Rob Portman will not seek another term when his current term expires in 2022, he announced Monday morning.

“This was not an easy decision because representing the people of Ohio has been an honor. But I’ve been doing this a long time, longer than I ever intended,” he said in a statement. “I’ve been in public service for 30 years – in the House of Representatives for 12, in the Executive Branch for about eight years in various roles in four different administrations, and in the Senate for the past 10 years. 

“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 continued. “Jane and our three children have been 100% 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. And I plan to stay involved in public policy issues.”

Portman has held his Senate seat since 2011. He is currently the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and serves as chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He also serves on the Senate Committee in Finance – including as chairman of the Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight – Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Committee on Foreign Relations. 

“During my service in the Senate, I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for Ohio and the country. I have consistently been named one of the most bipartisan Senators. I am proud of that and I will continue to reach out to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find common ground,” Portman said, noting that 82 of his bills were signed into law by President Donald Trump and 68 by President Barack Obama.

“This includes impactful laws to address the drug addiction crisis like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that has saved lives by providing billions in new resources for evidence-based prevention, treatment and, for the first time ever, recovery services,” he said. “It includes laws to confront the horrific crime of human trafficking. Working with trafficking victims, advocates, and law enforcement, my SESTA legislation has allowed victims to seek justice, and closed down websites that were trafficking girls and women online.”

Portman said he can have a bigger impact on these issues outside of government.

“This is a tough time to be in public service. For many of the issues I am most passionate about, I will continue to make a difference outside of the Senate, beyond 2022,” he said.

In his statement, he said he’s hopeful President Joe 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.

“I want to thank the great people of Ohio for giving me the incredible opportunity to serve, and I look forward to continuing to work hard for them over the next two years,” he said. “I decided to make my announcement now because I have made up my mind, but also because it will allow whichever Republicans who choose to run plenty of time to gear up for a statewide race.”

Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement after Portman’s announcement.

“Senator Portman has worked tirelessly on behalf of Ohioans during his two terms in the United States Senate. Senator Portman has been a key partner on helping Ohio with federal COVID-19 relief and other pandemic-related issues,” DeWine stated. “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. Fran and I wish Rob and Jane and their family the best in their future endeavors.”

Portman was elected to Congress from southern Ohio in a 1993 special election and won six more elections before being tapped by President George W. Bush to serve as U.S. trade representative in 2005. He traveled the globe, negotiating dozens of trade agreements. Bush then nominated him to be his White House budget director in 2006.

Portman stepped down in 2007, then returned to politics in 2010 with a successful U.S. Senate run, and won again in 2016, both times by landslide margins in a traditional swing state.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken said in a statement following Portman’s announcement that his service has been “invaluable.”

Generally voting with his party, Portman broke ranks in 2013 to announce support for same-sex marriage. He said their son Will had earlier come out as gay to him and his wife, Jane. They have three children.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Image via (Bill Clark/Pool via AP)

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