Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced Monday that he will not be running for reelection in 2022.
Portman said in a statement announcing the decision that it had “gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy” in the Senate. That gridlock “has contributed to my decision,” his statement said, though he also said he looked forward to spending more time in Ohio and “getting back to the private sector.”
Portman’s seat is among the ones Democrats are hoping to flip and no longer having to run against an incumbent could help them in that effort. However, Ohio, once a closely watched swing state, has grown redder over recent years and Democrats have struggled in statewide races.
Trump won the state in 2020 with an 8 percentage point margin, and besides Sen. Sherrod Brown’s reelection, 2018 was also a poor year for Ohio Democrats, even as Democrats surged elsewhere in the country.
The open race for Portman’s seat could also attract an intense Republican primary. At a press conference after his decision was announced, Portman said he had not spoken to any Republicans about running for his seat but that were a “bunch of great candidates out there.”
Portman, though not as moderate as centrists like Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), is an institutionalist and one who likes to tout his efforts to work across the aisle.
Portman’s statement said he would spend his last two years in office seeking to work with the Biden administration COVID-19 relief, but took a dim view of the future for bipartisanship in the longterm.
“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,” he said in his statement. “This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decade.”
Portman’s announcement comes as an impeachment trial approaches where the Senate will be voting on whether to convict former President Trump for inciting the mob that ransacked the Capitol while Congress was certifying President Joe Biden’s win. Portman has not said how he intends to vote in the trial.