Republican Sen. Rob Portman is not seeking re-election in Ohio, giving Democrats a glimmer of hope in a seat that didn’t look all that competitive at this early stage of the 2022 cycle.
The senator’s comments about “partisan gridlock” will add to the narrative that Republicans are in disarray in the wake of President Donald Trump’s time in office. But Portman’s announcement does not mean Republicans are on the brink of losing this Senate seat. Ohio has been trending Republican for the last few years and, historically, Republicans should have the national political environment in their favor with a Democrat in the White House.
Portman is the third Senate Republican to announce he will not seek re-election, joining Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey and Richard Burr of North Carolina. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has not announced whether or not he will run for another term.
The open seat will likely spawn a crowded and contentious Republican primary and a Democratic search for the perfect candidate.
Initial potential GOP candidates include Rep. Jim Jordan (who has become a favorite of Trump), Rep. Steve Stivers (former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee), Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, former Rep. Jim Renacci (who lost the 2018 race to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown by 6 points), and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel (who lost a 2012 race to Brown by 6 points). Mandel had $4.3 million in a federal campaign account on Sept. 30, 2020.