Lawmakers react to Sen. Rob Portman’s decision to not seek re-election

Lawmakers and politicians reacted to Senator Rob Portman’s decision to not run for re-election in 2022, thanking him for decades of service to Ohio and the country.

“Sen. Portman has worked tirelessly on behalf of Ohioans during his two terms in the United States Senate,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “Sen. Portman has been a key partner on helping Ohio with federal COVID-19 relief and other pandemic-related issues. Sen. 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.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, said he and Portman were able to work together for Ohio’s best interests, despite being from different political parties.

“Rob and I have worked together on issues that matter to Ohioans, from protecting the health of Lake Erie, to better enforcing our trade laws, to helping Ohioans who are struggling with addiction,” he said. “We’ve not always agreed with one another, but we’ve always been able to put our differences aside to do what’s best for our state. Connie and I thank Rob for his career of public service and wish him and Jane well.”

Portman was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 and re-elected in 2016. He previously served in the U.S. House as well as budget director and U.S. trade representative for President George W. Bush’s administration.

“I’ve known Sen. Rob Portman since college,” said state Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg. “He’s been a role model, a close mentor, and someone who’s always given me tough, sound advice. He is the pinnacle of a public servant and statesmen. Sen. Portman, thank you for your service as you announce your retirement today.”

Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said that Portman will be greatly missed.

“Rob Portman has been a tremendous public servant for the state of Ohio whose bipartisanship, pragmatism, and strong record of results will be greatly missed in the Senate,” he said.

“As numerous people have reached out to me, I will continue to look to the opportunity where I can best serve our community, state and country,” said Turner. “My priority remains putting my constituents first.”

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken said Portman’s contribution to the country and Republican party over the last 30 years has been “invaluable.”

“His leadership and temperament will be missed in the halls of the U.S. Senate and amongst Ohio Republicans,” she said. “While we have huge shoes to fill in the U.S. Senate, I thank Sen. Portman for his service and hope all Ohioans will join me in recognizing his accomplishments that furthered our great state.”

In his statement Monday, Portman mentioned a growing polarity in the nation’s politics, saying it’s “a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades.”

Ohio Democratic Chairwoman Liz Walters called out Portman’s support of former President Trump and noted his announcement would make the 2022 race for the U.S. Senate seat “even more competitive.”

“Over the past four years, Rob Portman has been one of Donald Trump’s biggest defenders, so his attempt today to rewrite that history is ridiculous,” Walters said. “This is the guy who, when asked about Trump’s decision to attack peaceful protesters with tear gas, said he was ‘late for lunch.’ This is the guy who backed Mitch McConnell’s theft of a Supreme Court seat from President Barack Obama. If Portman wants to complain about the death of civility and the triumph of partisan gridlock, he should take a long, hard look in the mirror and think about what he wants to be his legacy.

“The truth is, Portman is looking at the same data we are -- the Ohio Senate seat was going to be a hard road for him, after he backed failed policies like the Trump tax scam and the Affordable Care Act repeal. In 2022 Ohioans want to send someone to the U.S. Senate who fights for them, not for special interests. This was always going to be a competitive race, and now it’s even more competitive.”