Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) surprised even his Republican colleagues when he announced Monday that he would not be running to keep his U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

Portman, 65, was expected to easily maintain his Ohio seat in the next election, but his choice to leave has left both parties scrambling. “It’s a harder time to find that middle ground,” said Portman in a Fox News interview. “I love public service, and I hope more people who are interested in making a difference in people’s lives get into it, but it is a tougher time to do it.”

Former colleagues of Portman have been more direct in citing growing partisanship as cause for the senator’s resignation. “I think it’s a sign that the party is focused on those with the biggest mouths, not those with the best plans,” said Jeff Sadosky who was  senior aide for Portman.

Among the hopefuls for Portman’s vacated seat is current Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a progressive Democrat, and moderate Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).

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Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is considered to be the GOP frontrunner.

Ohio voted for President Donald Trump in 2020 and 2016, but was carried by President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. 

What people want in Ohio — it’s not complicated. They want to work and they want to get paid decently for that work,” Whaley told The New York Times. “And over three decades, both parties have not been paying attention to that. I think ’22 gives us a real opportunity to localize some of these issues in Ohio.”

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