GOP Sen. Rob Portman opts out of 2016 presidential run

Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman rules out running for president in 2016

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman will run for office in 2016 — but it won't be for president.

Portman, a Republican who had been weighing a candidacy for the White House, announced Tuesday he's decided instead to seek a second term in the Senate.

“With the new Republican majority, I see a real opportunity over the next two years to break the gridlock in Washington and actually get things done to help Ohioans and all Americans. That's where I believe I can play the most constructive role," Portman said in a statement.

In 2012, Portman was a strong ally of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and was in the running to be his vice presidential running mate. Romney instead picked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his No. 2. Portman, who hails from a presidential swing state, is still viewed as a potential vice presidential nominee for 2016.

Last year, Portman announced his support for same-sex marriage, saying he had changed his position after his son told him he was gay. Some Republicans thought his shift on the issue reduced his chances of success in the GOP presidential primaries.

“That could have been a factor, but the biggest factor is really the crowded field and really the Bush connection,” said Ohio Republican strategist Terry Casey. “The constituencies for money and support are just too closely aligned.”

Casey said a potential presidential run by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2016 probably influenced Portman, who served as director of the Office of Management and Budget in the administration of George W. Bush, Jeb Bush's brother. On Monday, while speaking at a Wall Street Journal forum in Washington, Jeb Bush said he's nearing a decision on 2016. 

For much of 2014, Portman has raised cash for the party, serving as vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Some of Portman’s Republican colleagues in the Senate, including Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, are strongly considering 2016 presidential runs.

Casey notes that despite Portman's decision not to run for president in 2016, Ohio might be represented in a crowded field that could see almost a dozen potential candidates. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who sailed to a reelection victory last month, is set to embark on a national tour in the coming weeks as he weighs a possible White House bid.

“He certainly is interested, we’ll see how it works out with his day job,” Casey said. 

Follow @kurtisalee and email kurtis.lee@latimes.com

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

7:45 a.m. This post has been updated with additional comments. 

The original version of this post was published at 7:04 a.m.

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