The 2nd District encompasses Clermont, Brown and Adams counties, as well as parts of Scioto, Warren and Hamilton counties. Portman represented the district from 1993 to 2005, and was succeeded by Republican Jean Schmidt.
Portman was a six-term congressman, beginning in 1990 in Cincinnati, who left to join the Bush administration in 2005 as trade representative, and was named budget director more than a year ago to replace Josh Bolten.
His family has remained in Cincinnati, and he has been commuting home on weekends for 14 years.
“We are very excited to have him back home in Cincinnati. I welcome him home where I expect his dedication to service will continue. Be it elective office or community leadership, Rob's future will undoubtedly be even brighter,” Schmidt said in a statement on Tuesday.
Portman said he was leaving the administration for personal reasons. He will be replaced by former Iowa Rep. Jim Nussle.
“I need to be home more. I've got three kids ages 12 to 17. It's just been very hard to spend as much time with them and Jane as I need to at this time of my life,” he said.
Portman also made it clear he might seek a return to elective office, either by running for Senate, or perhaps even governor of Ohio.
Ohio's current democratic governor, Ted Strickland, himself is a former representative of Ohio's 6th Congressional District, which shares Scioto County with its 2nd District neighbor. Strickland won the gubernatorial election in 2006, and the office will not be up for election again until 2010.
Keith Daily, a spokesperson for Strickland's office, said the governor is very focused on serving Ohioan's well in his first year in office, and said politics are the furthest thing from his mind at this time.
“That's something that will take care of itself four years down the road,” Daily said.
Should Portman decide to run for governor, it could potentially lead to an election showdown with a great deal of local interest - as two former Scioto County representatives stand-off in a race to lead the state of Ohio.
The ASSOCIATED PRESS contributed to this article. RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.