Portman backs Timken in primary

Timken trails other GOP candidates in the polls ahead of the Senate primary

By ethan Nichols, Staff Writer

Retiring U.S. Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, threw his support behind former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken in the crowded GOP primary to replace him. 

The race for the GOP nomination includes Timken, Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance, State Senator Matt Dolan (R-Cuyahoga), investment banker Mike Gibbons and former state treasurer Josh Mandel. Last month, car salesman Bernie Moreno dropped out of the race. 

“I believe Jane Timken is the best candidate to advance conservative Republican policies to help Ohio workers and families,” Portman said in a statement.

A poll conducted from Feb. 8 – Feb. 10 by the Trafalgar Group shows Timken in fifth place, with 9.8% of those polled saying they would vote for her if the primary happened today. 

Mandel leads the primary with 21%; Gibbons, 16.4%; Vance, 14.3% and Dolan, 10.2%. Twenty-five percent of voters remain undecided.

Xavier political science professor and Take It On Director Dr. Mack Mariani noted that the endorsement was particularly important for Timken’s campaign, given her place in the polls.

“It’s a needed shot in the arm for Timken’s campaign,” Mariani said. “Senator Portman remains a very popular figure in Ohio politics, and his endorsement will give Timken media attention and money at a critical time.”

Portman announced in January that he would not seek re-election for a third term in the Senate. He began his career in government in 1989 as an associate White House Counsel for former president George H.W. Bush. 

Portman’s (left) endorsement was sought after by the crowded field of Republican primary opponents. A long-serving senator with experience in advising the White House, Portman’s endorsement of Timken comes as the former Ohio Republican Party chair is falling behind in the primary polls.

He would go on to serve as director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs before being elected to represent Ohio’s second congressional district in Congress. 

He served in Congress from 1993-2005. Portman would go on to serve as U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In 2010, Portman was elected to his first term in the U.S. Senate.

Dolan, who is narrowly leading Timken in the polls, criticized Portman’s endorsement of Timken.

“He made clear that his support for Jane Timken was predicated on personal friendship,” Dolan said.

Timken stated that she was grateful for Portman’s endorsement, noting his legislative achievements.

“Rob successfully led the effort to pass President Trump’s tax cuts, is the leader in the U.S. Senate in fighting the opioid epidemic and has consistently delivered results for Ohio,” Timken stated. 

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, will face off against former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau attorney Morgan Harper. 

The Republican primary is scheduled for May 3. It is an open primary, meaning anyone can vote regardless of party registration.