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Robert Jones "Rob" Portman (born December 19, 1955) is an Americanmarker lawyer, a member of the Republican Party and a former public official who has held both elected and appointed positions. As of January 14, 2009, he is running for the open Senate seat for Ohiomarker being vacated by retiring Senator George Voinovich.

Portman has served in two federal cabinet positions and as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives. Most recently, (May 2006 to June 2007), he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) during the administration of President George W. Bush. Previously, Portman was the U. S. Trade Representative for one year, (from May 2005 to May 2006), a post carrying the rank of Ambassador.

From 1993 to 2005, he served in the U. S. House of Representatives (the House) representing Ohio's 2nd congressional district ( map), which stretched along the Ohio River from the Hamilton Countymarker suburbs of Cincinnatimarker east to Scioto County.


Portman, a Methodist, was born in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker, to entrepreneur Bill Portman and his wife. Portman graduated in 1974 from the private Cincinnati Country Day School and went on to Dartmouth Collegemarker where he majored in anthropology and received a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in 1979. He earned his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of Michiganmarker in 1984 and worked for two years as an international trade lawyer at the Washington, D.C.marker, law firm of Patton, Boggs, and Blow. He returned to Cincinnati in 1986 and was employed at one of that city's major law firms, Graydon Head & Ritchey, LLP,(GH&R). In 1989, he began his career in public service by working for President George H. W. Bush as Associate White House Counsel. He later served as director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs until 1991 when he returned to Cincinnati and became a partner at GH&R. Two years later, Portman was elected to the House of Representatives.

Portman and his wife, Jane, are residents of Terrace Parkmarker in Hamilton Countymarker. They have three children, two boys and girl.

Electoral history, House of Representatives

1993 Special election

In 1993 a special election was called to fill the seat of Congressman Willis D. Gradison Jr. who had resigned to become president of the Health Insurance Association of America, a lobbying firm. Although Portman had never run for elected office, he entered the race. In the Republican primary on March 16, 1993 Portman faced six-term Congressman Bob McEwen, who had lost his Sixth District seat to Ted Strickland in November 1992; real estate developer Jay Buchert, president of the National Association of Home Builders; and several lesser known candidates ranging from a pro-life activist to a Ku Klux Klan leader.

Portman was criticized by Buchert in the campaign for his previous law firm's work for Haitianmarker dictator Baby Doc Duvalier, while McEwen was questioned about bounced checks he had written on the House bank. Buchert ran campaign commercials citing McEwen's checks, the expenses of his Congressional office, and his campaign finance disclosures, while calling Portman "the handpicked choice of the downtown money crowd" and "a registered foreign agent for the biggest Democrat lobbying firm in Washington," labeling Portman and McEwen "Prince Rob and Bouncing Bob".

In the primary, McEwen won four of the five counties in the district Portman won only Hamilton County, taking 17,531 votes (35.61%) overall, while McEwen received 14,542 (29.54%), Buchert 12,488 (25.37%), Dorsey 2,947 (5.99%), the rest scattering.

The general election result was determined by the primary as the Second District was one of the most Republican in the country. Portman easily defeated his Democratic opponent, attorney Lee Hornberger by 53,020 (70.1%) to 22,652 (29.1%). Portman spent $650,000 in his primary campaign but only $81,000 in the general election. Portman was sworn in as a member of the 103rd Congress on May 5, 1993, less than eighteen hours after the polls closed.

1994 through 2004 elections

Portman was easily re-elected in every election. In 1994, he defeated Democrat Les Mann, a security guard at the General Electric Company's factory in Evendalemarker, 150,128 to 43,730 to return to the 104th Congress. In 1996, he defeated Democrat Thomas R. Chandler, a hospital technician who had lost the Democratic primary to Hornberger in 1993, and independent Kathleen M. McKnight. Portman won with 186,853 votes to Chandler's 58,715 and McKnight's 13,905, for a seat in the 105th Congress.

In 1998, his Democratic challenger was Waynesvillemarker mayor Charles W. Sanders. Portman was re-elected to the 106th Congress by a vote of 154,344 to 49,293. Portman faced Sanders again in the succeeding three elections, Sanders never getting as much as one-third of the vote. In 2000, Portman won election to the 107th Congress by 204,184 to 64,091, with Libertarian Robert E. Bidwell getting 9,266 votes. In 2002, Sanders was again nominated by the Democrats (although due to redistricting he no longer lived in the Second District). Portman won a term in the 108th Congress 139,218 to 48,785, and in 2004, Portman defeated Sanders 221,785 to 87,156. He served in the 109th Congress until April 29, 2005.

Congressional career

Portman was a member of the Ways and Means Committee and vice chair of the Budget Committee. Very close to President George W. Bush, he acted as the liaison between Congressional Republicans and the White House during the first four years of the Bush administration. In nominating him for the trade post, President Bush called Portman "a good friend, a decent man, and a skilled negotiator."

Portman was known as a legislator who reached across the aisle, and he authored or co-authored over a dozen bills that became law. These included bills to reform the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS Restructuring Act of 1998), Cincinnati's National Underground Railroad Freedom Centermarker, curbing unfunded mandates (the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, expanding pensions offered by small businesses and increasing the contribution limits on 401(k) plans and IRAs. Portman also helped author legislation to protect tropical rainforests worldwide (The Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998), to eliminate capital gains taxes on the sale of most homes, three bills to promote drug prevention and education, and a bill that was very recently enacted to help prisoners safely reenter society (The Second Chance Act of 2008).

United States Trade Representative

On March 17, 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Portman to be United States Trade Representative. Portman was confirmed by the Senate on April 29. He resigned his Congressional seat at noon that day and the House took notice of his resignation on May 2, 2005 (see[70613], [70614]). His seat was filled by Jean Schmidt as a result of a special election held on August 2, 2005.

OMB Director

On April 18, 2006, President Bush nominated Portman to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 26, 2006. Portman replaced Joshua Bolten as OMB Director; Bolten was appointed White House Chief of Staff, replacing Andrew Card on April 15, 2006.

Bush immediately nominated Susan Schwab, the deputy United States Trade Representative, to replace Portman as United States Trade Representative. She was confirmed by the Senate in June 2006.

On June 19, 2007, Portman resigned his position of OMB director, citing personal reasons and a desire to spend more time with his family and three children. He was replaced by former Iowa Congressman and failed gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle. [70615]

Published author

In December 2004, Portman and Cheryl Bauer published a book on the Nineteenth century Shaker community at Union Village in Turtlecreek Townshipmarker, Warren Countymarker, Ohiomarker, entitled Wisdom's Paradise: The Forgotten Shakers of Union Village. (Wilmingtonmarker, Ohiomarker: Orange Frazer Press, 2004. ISBN 1-882203-40-2). The basis of the book was a high school term paper Portman had written on the Shaker community. Portman became interested in the topic because his maternal grandparents, Robert and Virginia Jones, in 1926 had purchased the Golden Lamb Innmarker in Lebanonmarker, about four miles east of the former Shaker settlement, and decorated it with Shaker furniture and artifacts often purchased at yard sales in the 1930s and 1940s.

Portman, who is an avid canoeist and kayaker, has also published an article on one of his kayak trips. The article, "China by Kayak" appears in the book, First Descents. In Search of Wild Rivers. Edited by Cameron O’Connor and John Lazen. Menasha Ridge Press (USA).1989. ISBN 0-89732-079-4. The article is about a kayak trip he took in China in 1984, coauthored with Dan Reicher. The article also appeared in Small Boat Journal.

Post-Bush Administration

Portman, currently of counsel in the Cincinnati office of the global law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, is viewed as a strong up-and-comer in the Ohio Republican Party. In a blogpost by columnist Michael Meckler, he stated that when members of Congress were asked who they believed would be running for president in 20 years, the second most frequently mentioned name among Republicans was that of Rob Portman. He had also been much mentioned as the likely successor of Treasury Secretary John W. Snow until Snow resigned from his post on May 30, 2006 and George W. Bush chose Goldman Sachs CEO, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., as his replacement. According to columnist Robert Novak, Portman was President Bush's choice for Vice Presidential running mate for Senator John McCain. On June 25, 2008, Portman was interviewed by Sean Hannity of FOX News, as a possible running mate for McCain.

In Novak's March 28, 2008 article, he wrote that "Portman's background is legislative (House Republican leadership), executive (George W. Bush's Cabinet), diplomatic (U.S. trade representative) and economic (Office of Management and Budget director). He comes from a swing state (Ohio), is young enough (52) to contrast McCain and conservative enough (89 percent lifetime American Conservative Union rating)." Portman for VP. In a May 27, 2008 New York Times Op-Ed column, David Brooks wrote, "Portman is an Ohioan with the mind of a budget director and a mild temperament that is a credit to his Midwestern roots. His résumé is ideal: He directed legislative affairs for the first President Bush, served in Congress for more than a decade and managed the Office of Management and Budget under Bush the younger. He excelled in every role."

In 2007, Portman founded the Ohio's Future P.A.C., a political action committee dedicated to ensuring "that the critical policy issues important to Ohioans remain at the forefront of Ohio's political agenda." Portman was quoted in an April 2008 Columbus Dispatch article as saying that the PAC is "obviously a way for me to stay active in the political and policy arena. It also helps me support candidates who I believe in and who are pro-growth, pro-jobs candidates. The main focus of the organization is to try to get Ohio back on its feet economically."

2010 Senate Race

On January 14, 2009, two days after Ohio Senator George Voinovich announced he would not be running for re-election, Portman officially declared his candidacy for the open seat. As of October 17, 2009, Portman has the largest campaign chest of any Republican running in 2010 at $5.1 million; and in the third quarter of 2009 alone, he raised $1.3 million.Portman has almost 7,000 individual donors, marking a strong showing of support for his campaign.{|November 2009|date=November 2009}}

See also

Electoral history

: Results 1994–2004
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1994 Les Mann 43,730 23% Rob Portman 150,128 77%
1996 Thomas R. Chandler 58,715 23% Rob Portman 186,853 72% Kathleen M. McKnight Natural Law 13,905 5%
1998 49,293 24% Rob Portman 154,344 76%
2000 Charles W. Sanders 64,091 23% Rob Portman 204,184 74% Robert E. Bidwell Libertarian 9,266 3%
2002 Charles W. Sanders 48,785 26% Rob Portman 139,218 74% *
2004 Charles W. Sanders 89,598 28% Rob Portman ** 227,102 72% *

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2002, James Condit, Jr. received 13 votes. In 2004, James Condit, Jr. received 60 votes. **Portman resigned his term early to serve as U.S.
Trade Representative.


  1. [1]
  2. "About Rob", Rob Portman campaign website, accessed October 16, 2009
  3. Senate 1: Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995,, accessed October 17, 2009
  4. Joe Hallett and Jonathan Riskind 3 subtly make case for 2010 governor's race, Columbus Dispatch, September 3, 2008.
  5. Op-Ed Columnist - The Running Mate Choice - Op-Ed -
  6. "Discuss Ohio's Future with Rob Portman on his blog",, undated
  7. Jonathan Riskind Weighing 2010 contest, Portman names former aide to run PAC, Columbus Dispatch, April 10, 2008
  8. [2]
  9. Kraushaar, Josh. Cha-ching! Campaign cash tops and flops, Politico, October 16, 2009


  • Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa. The Almanac of American Politics, 1994. Washington, D.C.marker: National Journal, 1993. ISBN 0-89234-058-4
  • Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa. The Almanac of American Politics, 1998. Washington, D.C.: National Journal, 1997. ISBN 0-89234-080-0
  • Michael Barone, Richard E. Cohen, and Grant Ujifusa. The Almanac of American Politics, 2002. Washington, D.C.: National Journal, 2001. ISBN 0-89234-099-1
  • Michael Meckler, March 16, 2006. Post
  • Elizabeth Becker. "Congressman From Ohio Is Chosen for Trade Post". The New York Times. March 18, 2005. C1.
  • Congressional Quarterly. Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 49th edition, 103rd Congress, 1st Session, 1993. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1994. ISBN 1-56802-020-1.
  • Congressional Quarterly. Politics in America, 1992: The 102nd Congress. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87187-599-3
  • "The Portman File". Cincinnati Enquirer. March 18, 2005. A13.
  • "Portman to be sworn in with a party." The Cincinnati Enquirer. May 17, 2005. B2.
  • Howard Wilkinson. "Portman will join Bush's cabinet." Cincinnati Enquirer. March 18, 2005. A1, A12.

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