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Portman won’t seek relection

The Monday announcement of longtime Ohio delegate Sen. Rob Portman retiring from national public life saw public commendation mixed with some local disappointment.

“This doesn’t mean I’m leaving now,” said the 65-year-old Cincinnati native who has served predominately in Washington, D.C., since 1993. “I still have two more years in my term and I intend to use that time to get a lot done. I will be the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and I have a number of oversight projects and legislative initiatives I’m eager to get across the finish line.”

Portman attributed the decision to not run again for a third term in 2022 to the partisanship of delegates to the nation’s capital and said his focus for the final two years will be on policy and energy legislation, rather than campaigning.

“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,” said Portman in a release.

When local businessman Jack Haessly heard the news that the senator who he considers a friend and critical advocate for historic preservation will be retiring from D.C. life, he wasn’t thrilled.

“That’s a disappointment, he’s a good guy,” said Haessly, who has personally hosted the senator in the meetings to save a historic landmark in Newport Township — the Joseph Barker Jr. house. “I think the cooperative effort that’s been here, he certainly highlighted when he visited us and expected us to carry on in that fashion. And I’d like to say that we have. Working with the (U.S. Army) Corps (of Engineers), which wasn’t easy at first, his guidance and suggestions, have been really good … he took a personal interest in that. Maybe we gave him some good food that day.”

Gov. Mike DeWine released a statement in response to the news at about noon Monday, noting similar priorities to the senator.

“Sen. Portman has been a key partner on helping Ohio with federal COVID-19 relief and other pandemic related issues,” said DeWine.

The governor also noted common goals including battling human trafficking, the opioid epidemic, and “protecting Lake Erie and Ohio’s other natural wonders,” the latter two also echoed by Portman’s Democrat counterpart from Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown.

“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,” said Brown in a statement.

Brown’s statement also noted common ground with Portman on enforcement of trade law.

Eyes across Ohio are now on the open campaign seat for 2022 midterms with names already fielded throughout Republican hopefuls considering following Portman’s path of representative to senator.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Bill Johnson, based in southeast Ohio, were among the names alongside “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance.

“Rob Portman has been a champion for Ohio and our nation during a career that spans many years of honorable service in the U.S. House, the Bush Administration, and now in the U.S. Senate. I consider him a friend, and wish him and his family the very best as he finishes his final term,” said Johnson, of Marietta, in a release. “Recently, I’ve been humbled by those asking me to consider additional ways to serve the hardworking people of the great state of Ohio. I am seriously considering this opportunity, and over the next few weeks I will talk to my family, friends, and supporters to determine if this is the right time and the right opportunity.”

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