Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio.
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Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who broke with ex-President Donald Trump’s bid to overturn Joe Biden’s victory, announced Monday he will not run for reelection in 2022, pointing in part to the difficulty of governing in a polarized Congress.
His decision opens up a Senate seat in a traditionally competitive state that has tilted more toward Republicans in recent years.
“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 the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision,” 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 65-year-old senator said he will try to work with President Biden on issues including coronavirus relief during the remainder of his second term. Portman, who on Sunday joined a call the White House held with bipartisan senators on its $1.9 trillion aid package, said he wants the administration to “work with us on a more targeted approach that focuses on things like vaccine distribution, testing and getting kids back to school.”
Portman, a former congressman and U.S. trade representative who focused on conservative economic policy, looked increasingly uncomfortable in a GOP dominated by Trump. He did not support Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, writing in a late November column that “there is no evidence as of now of any widespread fraud or irregularities that would change the result in any state.”
Portman voted to uphold certified election results on Jan. 6 after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol and delayed the count. He will soon serve as a juror in the former president’s second impeachment trial after the House charged Trump with inciting an insurrection.
GOP primaries could prove challenging for Republicans who did not fuel Trump’s false election claims, as the president maintains strong support within the party.
Portman’s retirement opens up another potentially competitive race in a midterm election where Republicans and Democrats will vie for control of a Senate split 50-50. The GOP holds 20 seats up for reelection in 2022, while Democrats have 14.
Trump beat Biden by about 8 percentage points in Ohio in November’s election. He won the state by a similar margin in 2016.
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown has enjoyed success in the state, winning reelection by about 7 percentage points in 2018.