Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced Monday the two-term incumbent will not see re-election in 2022, creating a vacancy in a competitive state next cycle.
Portman, 65, cited partisan gridlock for his Washington exit after serving more than two decades in the capital. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1993, then to the Bush administration from 2005 to 2007, and on to the upper chamber — riding the wave of the Tea Party — in 2010.
“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 partisan gridlock,” Portman said in a statement. “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.”
The moderate senator built a reputation for bipartisanship during his time in the upper chamber, breaking party ranks to support same-sex marriage in 2013.
The Senate vacancy leaves open an opportunity for Republicans to replace Portman with a candidate more conservative in a Trump-friendly state moving increasingly to the right in a cycle likely to favor Republicans. The incumbent president’s party historically fairs poorly in the first midterm following inauguration. Democrats reclaimed the House in 2018 following Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, and Republicans did the same in 2010 after Barack Obama was elected. Trump captured Ohio’s 18 electoral votes by eight points in the 2020 election, marking the first time the state had cast its ballots for the losing president in seven decades.
While Trump handily carried the state twice, however, Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown still defeated pro-Trump Congressman Jim Renacci in 2018.
“This is a tough time to be in public service,” Portman said. “For many of the issues I am most passionate about, I will continue to make a difference outside of the Senate, beyond 2022.”