CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from Feb. 4, 2021.
Former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton hasn't officially announced her intentions to run for the U.S. Senate in 2022 yet.
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But if she does, it may not take long for her to become the front-runner in the Democratic primary.
On Wednesday, Public Policy Polling released a new poll regarding the upcoming Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat that will be left vacated by Senator Rob Portman's (R-Ohio) decision not to run for re-election in 2022. The results of the poll, which was commissioned by the Acton-supporting Action 3.14 Action Fund -- show that Acton has the highest favorability of potential Democratic candidates, with 64 percent of Ohio Democratic primary voters viewing her favorably.
That marks a 24 percent lead in net favorability over Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, who has also been linked to a potential U.S. Senate run in 2022. The poll also shows that if Acton and Ryan were the only candidates in the Ohio Democratic primary, Acton would hold a 5 percent lead over Ryan among polled voters, which falls outside the margin of error of 3.5 percent.
As for the reason behind Acton's popularity, the poll shows that 79 percent of Ohio Democratic primary voters approve of the state’s handling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic), while 86 percent of those polled held favorable opinions of scientists and public health professionals.
During her time as the director of Ohio's Department of Health, Acton became one of the faces of the state's response to the coronavirus. She received praise both locally and nationally for her calm demeanor and measured approach, with a New York Times video column calling her "the leader we wish we all had."
But while Acton was lauded by many, she also faced criticism from those who believed the state's response to the coronavirus, which included a stay-at-home order that lasted throughout April 2020, was too severe. Last June, she resigned from her role as ODH director, staying on as an advisor to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine until August.
In an interview with The New Yorker last fall, Acton explained that she feared she would be forced to sign orders that would go against her Hippocratic oath to do no harm.
While Acton has largely stayed out of the public spotlight since stepping down as ODH director last June, her name generated plenty of buzz as a potential U.S. Senate candidate after Portman announced he won't run for re-election. Last month, Acton officially announced that she was stepping down from her role at The Columbus Foundation to explore a potential U.S. Senate run.