By Julie Carr Smyth
COLUMBUS (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rob Portman endorsed Republican Jane Timken on Wednesday from among the crowded GOP field seeking the seat he is vacating next year.
Portman tweeted that Timken, former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, “is the best candidate to advance conservative @GOP policies to help #Ohio workers and families.” He called Timken smart and hard-working and said Ohioans “would be proud to have her representing us in the United States Senate.”
Portman, a Cincinnati Republican, announced his decision to retire last year, citing deep partisanship and dysfunction in U.S. politics. His campaign account had more than $3.5 million on hand at the end of 2021.
Considered a moderate, Portman notably spearheaded Republicans’ bipartisan deal with the Democratic Biden administration last summer to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill.
As half a dozen leading Republican contenders, including Timken, continue to jockey for the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, GOP state Sen. Matt Dolan was the only candidate to tout himself as a moderate, Portman-style statesman in the heavily Trump-supporting state.
In the end, though, Portman said he believes Timken has the best chance at the ballot box.
“I am confident in her ability to win both the primary and the general elections, ensuring that this Senate seat remains Republican with a 50-50 Senate, and so much at stake,” he said.
The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of a Democratic primary that includes 10-term U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and progressive Morgan Harper, a former consumer protection attorney.
Harper has pushed the Ohio Democratic Party not to take sides in the race, leaving the decision to voters. A similar argument made by some top Democrats in the governor’s race resulted in the candidate favored to receive the nod to request the party stay neutral. Democrats will make their decision on the Senate race this week.
The Ohio Primary Election takes place May 3.