GOP Senator Abruptly Retires Opening Door For Democrat Majority

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As the Senate prepares to conduct the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who was first elected in 2010, has announced that he’s not running for re-election. The next election involving his seat is in 2022, just a couple of years away. In the meantime, Portman said that the so-called “partisan gridlock” that has increased the difficulty of working in the Capitol contributed to his decision to retire from Congress. It’s worth noting — Portman’s own party majorly contributed to recent years of “gridlock.” The GOP-led Senate ignored numerous bills that the Democrat-led House approved throughout the final two years of Trump’s presidency, and in the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, Senate Republicans refused to even hold hearings for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Portman commented as follows:

‘I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but 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… 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.’

To be clear: Portman was a supporter of Donald Trump, and to suggest that anyone who publicly backed Trump prior to the 2020 election has some standing with which to argue in favor of finding “common ground” is rather ridiculous. Throughout his time in office, Trump repeatedly refused to meaningfully engage with his political opponents. Instead, he preferred to belligerently rant on Twitter and push through policies through means other than compromise. For instance, he signed a national emergency declaration over the situation at the southern border that his administration used to bypass Congressional management of government funds and get money for border wall construction.

Portman’s retirement announcement does not immediately take effect — he plans to finish the rest of his term, meaning that he will be in the Senate for the upcoming impeachment trial. Trump’s second impeachment was over his role in inciting the recent deadly rioting at the U.S. Capitol, and Portman has already acknowledged that Trump “bears some responsibility” for what happened. Whether this acknowledgement translates into a vote to convict the ex-president on a charge of incitement of insurrection is an open question. Meanwhile, although Ohio leaned Republican in the two most recent presidential elections, Portman’s retirement announcement complicates the Senate election map for 2022. With an open seat, there’s no incumbency advantage for Republicans.