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Who's in, who's out? A running list of the possible contenders for Ohio's soon-to-be open seat in the U.S. Senate

Several prominent Republicans have already entered the race to replace Rob Portman, while the Democrats also have options.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Months after Ohio's Rob Portman announced he will not seek reelection to the United States Senate once his term is up in 2022, several prominent figures in Ohio politics have already put themselves in or taken themselves out of the race to succeed him.

Democrats and Republicans are both vying for the seat, with several early names discussed including U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, and even former Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel. However, all three declined to run, making the landscape a bit murkier.

RELATED: Which Ohio Democrats will vie for U.S. Senator Rob Portman's seat in 2022? Sen. Sherrod Brown weighs in

In the meantime, three major candidates have officially announced their intentions to run, while other big names could announce soon. Here's how things currently look:


J.D. Vance

A Middletown native and Iraq War veteran, Vance rose to prominence as a venture capitalist and author the best-selling memoir "Hillbilly Elegy," which was later adapted into a feature film staring Amy Adams and Glenn Close. He declined to run against Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2018, but on July 1 threw his hat in the ring for 2022.

The New York Times reports tech billionaire Peter Thiel, a longtime GOP donor and supporter of Trump, has donated $10 million to a super PAC endorsing a possible Vance run.

Rep. Tim Ryan

The Niles native officially launched his campaign on Apr. 26 and is already considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, even gaining endorsements from prominent figures such as former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He currently represents Ohio's 13th congressional district and has been noted as one of the strongest liberal voices in the Buckeye State since his House tenure began in 2003.

Mike Gibbons

A Cleveland investment banker, Gibbons ran for Sherrod Brown's Senate seat in 2018 and finished second to Rep. Jim Renacci in the Republican primary with 32% of the vote. He announced his candidacy on April 12, although his launch video was later revealed to contain stock footage from Russia and Ukraine.

Bernie Moreno

The Cleveland area businessman officially entered the race for the Republican nomination on April 6, with his campaign saying he "is running to stop the socialist agenda, protect the gains made by President Donald J. Trump and protect the American dream." The Colombia native later spoke to 3News' Mark Naymik:

Former Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken

Timken, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, announced her bid on Feb. 18

"As Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, I was a conservative disruptor. With the support of President Trump, I built a part that delivered conservative, America First victories at every level," Timken wrote on Twitter. "Now I'm taking that same work ethic and attitude to Washington."

Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel

The Cleveland native officially launched his campaign on Feb. 10, saying he was inspired by the "sham impeachment" of former President Donald Trump.

Mandel was considered the GOP frontrunner for the Senate in 2018, but dropped out before the primary due to his then-wife's health issues. He served two terms as treasurer and previously ran against Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2012, losing that race by six points.

Other Republican candidates: IT executive Mark Pukita, Ret. U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Michael Leipold

RELATED: Former Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel claims 2020 election was 'stolen from President Trump' in interview with 3News' Mark Naymik


Former Rep. Jim Renacci

The Wadsworth resident and current Chairman of the Medina County GOP served in Congress for eight years before leaving to run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, losing to the incumbent Brown by six points. He was rumored as a possible candidate again in 2022, but has instead decided to challenge Gov. Mike DeWine in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Rep. Bill Johnson

A staunch Trump loyalist who is currently in his sixth term representing Southeast Ohio's sixth district, the 66-year-old Republican confirmed he was "seriously considering" running for Senate, but on May 26 The Youngstown Vindicator confirmed he had decided against a bid. The Marietta native told the paper "the realities of fundraising make it a real challenge," but confirmed he would be seeking re-election to his House seat.

Dr. Amy Acton

Long a rumored favorite within the Ohio Democratic Party, Acton first rose to prominence in the spring of 2020 as director of the Ohio Department of Health during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Acton confirmed on April 6 she will not run for Senate.

"While I am not entering the race for U.S. Senate, I recognize there is a genuine longing for a fresh approach to leadership that is honest, collaborative, and empowering," Acton wrote. "Ohioans - do not accept anything less from your elected officials. Our leaders’ words and actions matter. We must set the bar higher."

Geraldo Rivera

The longtime media personality and Shaker Heights resident tweeted he was "pondering" entering the race for the Republican nomination, but just one day later confirmed he has "decided not to seek public office."

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley

Whaley has previously been known to consider runs for Congress and briefly ran for governor in 2018. She announced that she will not run for reelection as mayor, but tells The New York Times she will not seek Portman's seat and is instead considering another run for the governor's mansion.

Rep. Joyce Beatty

Beatty, congresswoman for Ohio's third district, confirmed she will not run for the seat that will be left vacant by Sen. Rob Portman. 

"I promise to be actively engaged and will campaign to make sure our next Senator shares my commitment to fight for Ohio families, small businesses, women and communities of color—and equally as passionate about eradicating inequities in healthcare, our economy, and social justice system," she said in a statement.

Beatty further wrote that she was grateful for all of the support, but feels as though she can do the most good in her current position in Congress. 

Jim Tressel

The former Ohio State head football coach and Mentor native told Buzzfeed News' Henry J. Gomez he does not intend to leave his current job as Youngstown State University's president. 

"Too busy here at YSU to run for the Senate," Tressel said. "It is time for the young guys to step up." 

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted

Ohio's Republican lieutenant governor released a statement via Twitter detailing his reasons for not deciding to run for the Senate seat, citing future intentions to run for Governor of Ohio. 

"Being Lt. Governor provides me the fulfilling opportunity and I intend to keep doing this job, run for re-election, and one day in the future, I intend to run for Governor," Husted wrote.  

Rep. Jim Jordan

Jordan, a staunch supporter of Trump, was rumored to be the favorite to replace Portman until it was reported that he does not intend to leave his current position.

"Mr. Jordan believes at this time he is better suited to represent Ohioans in the House of Representatives, where as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, he can advance an America first agenda, promote conservative values, and hold big government accountable," a spokesperson for the congressman said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

The Republican tweeted that he will not run for the seat and will instead seek a second term as AG.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley

Cranley has previously discussed a potential run against DeWine in 2022, but a possible open Senate seat could have changed his course of action. However, 3News sister station WLWT in Cincinnati reports the mayor will not run to replace Portman, and is instead "focused on running for Ohio Governor."

Former Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich

A former U.S. Rep. from 1983-2001 and later a popular two-term governor, Kasich drew the ire of the GOP with his disavowal of Trump and his endorsement of Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election. In a statement to The Cincinnati Enquirer, spokesperson Jim Lynch dismissed rumors of Kasich possibly running for Portman's seat as "nothing more than clickbait."


Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes

A native of Akron, the 35-year-old Sykes told the New York Times she is considering a Senate run after receiving overtures from "a handful of progressive advocacy groups." Due to term limits, she will not be eligible to run for re-election to her State House seat in 2022.

Both of Sykes' parents have served in the Ohio General Assembly, and her father Vernon is currently a member of the State Senate. The family has held her current House seat since 1983.

State Sen. Matt Dolan

The Chagrin Falls Republican represented Ohio's 98th House district for five years before being elected to the State Senate's 24th district in 2016. He was reelected in a competitive race this past November, and The Cincinnati Enquirer reports he has formed an exploratory committee to mull the idea of replacing Portman.

Despite his conservative credentials, Dolan has also gone against his party on some notable occasions, such as when he voted against GOP-backed legislation that stripped the governor's office and local health departments of some of their powers during health emergencies. He has also attacked some of the extremism from his potential competitors for the nomination, including Josh Mandel. When Mandel posted a racist Twitter poll back in March that ended up getting him suspended from the platform, Dolan called the former Ohio treasurer a "bigot" and declared, "We must do better."

As a member of the Dolan family, the senator also has an ownership stake in the Cleveland Indians, although his brother Paul officially runs the team.

RELATED: Which Ohio Democrats will vie for U.S. Senator Rob Portman's seat in 2022? Sen. Sherrod Brown weighs in

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