WASHINGTON D.C.- Filing deadlines for the May Primaries are fast approaching, with candidates already publicizing whether or not they will be seeking office in 2021. Statewide focus, however, shifted Monday to 2022 following the announcement from an Ohio Senator with 30 years in public service.
Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman broke the news Monday morning that he will not be seeking a third six-year term, citing partisan divide and preparation time for hopeful candidates as the primary reasons for his decision.
“This was not an easy decision because representing the people of Ohio has been an honor,” he said in a press release. “But I’ve been doing this a long time, longer than I ever intended.”
Claiming to be one of the most bipartisan senators, a 2019 report from the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy ranking him as the 4th-most bipartisan senator, Portman said the political schism in Congress had stiffened his progress on meaningful policy.
“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. “This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades.”
While working out of Cincinnati and Washington, Portman looked into problems facing southern Ohio- most notably the addiction crisis and concerns regarding the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant during his time in office. He also served the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Scioto County, in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1993 and 2005.
In response to the opioid crisis, where Harm Reduction Ohio reports that Scioto County had the highest overdose death rate in 2020, Portman has held both conversations with local leaders and passed legislation to mitigate its effects.
Portman and U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup visited Portsmouth in January 2019 for a round table discussion to get a sense of what actions were being taken locally and the impact of the 21st Century CURES Act, which was $525,000 in grants were secured for Scioto, Adams and Lawrence counties.
“The board and community partners are making terrific use of the funding they received through the CURES legislation, and I’m pleased to see it is making a difference,” Portman said in the 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times article. “Their approach to addressing addiction and its grip on our communities is exactly what is needed to help turn the tide of the opioid epidemic in Ohio. I will continue to work with local groups and community leaders to help ensure they have the support and funding they need to continue their good work.”
Last month, Portman’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act 2.0 received the backing of health services across the state, including Portsmouth City Health Department Public Health Nurse Lisa Roberts.
“The city of Portsmouth is grateful for Senator Portman’s leadership, specifically, as it relates to the opioid epidemic. CARA 2.0 will help arm us with the funding and policy changes needed to continue our fight here in Southern Ohio by promoting and supporting prevention, treatment and recovery efforts,” the press release quotes her saying. “I would urge others who are combating this fight at the local level to support this legislation.”
Many Ohio politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, have expressed interest in the seat for the 2022 race. Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, who represents the eastern portion of the county, is among the group now considering.
“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,” reads a statement he posted on Twitter. “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.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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