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Portman Retirement Deals Another Blow to Senate GOP, Creating Vulnerable Open Seat In 2022 Battleground State

Ohio Joins Open Races In North Carolina And Pennsylvania, Another Setback For Minority Leader Mitch McConnell And New NRSC Chair Rick Scott As GOP Incumbents Decide Not To Run For Re-Election

Today’s news that Senator Rob Portman of Ohio will not seek re-election in 2022 is yet another blow to a struggling NRSC after losing the Senate majority earlier this month. This cycle’s latest retirement has opened up another open Republican-held Senate seat in a major battleground state, putting the GOP even further on defense and offering Democrats another improved pickup opportunity as “open seats are more difficult to defend.” Republicans will face a “crowded and nasty” primary to replace Portman, as Ohio joins Pennsylvania and North Carolina as open seats that the NRSC will be forced to defend this cycle.

After losing both of the Georgia runoffs, Portman’s retirement is an unwelcome development for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s also another setback for new NRSC Chair Rick Scott who has had what is likely the worst first weeks of any party campaign committee chair in recent history. With Portman’s decision to retire, Scott has already failed one of his self-proclaimed key tasks as NRSC Chair –– “trying to convince all the GOP incumbents who are up for reelection in 2022 to run again.” Scott’s latest failure in his new position won’t quiet growing Republicans’ concerns that he “has dug the party a hole for the 2022 midterms.”

“Senator Portman’s retirement is yet another blow for Republicans as they face a deeply divided caucus, a controversial and problematic new NRSC Chair, and an increasingly tough map in 2022,” said DSCC spokesperson Stewart Boss. “The NRSC must now deal with another open seat liability in a major battleground state, setting the stage for what is sure to be a messy and divisive primary.”

What they’re saying about Portman’s retirement and the 2022 Senate map:

  • Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs: “GOP operatives saying they believe Republican US Sen. @senrobportman’s decision to not seek re-election in 2020 signals that he doesn’t think the party is coming back anytime soon into a working majority”
  • POLITICO: “Ohio Republican Rob Portman will not seek a third Senate term in 2022, a blow to both Republicans’ hopes of taking back the Senate…the Republican primary could quickly become crowded and nasty”
  • CNN: “The announcement will set off what could become a highly competitive race to fill the seat and will reshape the 2022 battlefield for control of the Senate”
  • NPR: “Portman is the third Republican senator to not seek another term in 2022, joining North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey”

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