“It has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock,” he said.
Ohio Republican Rob Portman will not seek a third Senate term in 2022, a blow to both Republicans’ hopes of taking back the Senate and the chamber’s dwindling number of centrists.
The two-term senator is one of the most effective legislators in the Senate, using his relationships gleaned from a long career in Washington to find compromise. But he cited legislative paralysis in the Senate as a major factor in his decision to retire at the end of next year.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Portman joins Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in retirement next year in key swing states. Democrats currently hold a narrow majority in an evenly split Senate due to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
Portman easily won reelection in 2016 alongside former President Donald Trump, but could not be a more different politician. A low-key GOP operator, Portman was never fully comfortable defending Trump’s bombastic political attacks. Portman said in an interview in November he was planning on running in 2022. But the GOP is now undergoing a major reckoning after Trump’s attacks on the election inspired an attack on the Capitol by his supporters.
Particularly now that he is unbound from having to run in a GOP primary, Portman is a key vote to watch in the coming weeks as the Senate prepares for Trump’s second impeachment trial. Portman voted to acquit Trump last year but criticized his behavior pressuring Ukraine to investigate political rivals as “not appropriate.”
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