Robert Jones "Rob" Portman (born December 19, 1955) is the junior United States Senator from Ohio. Portman is a member of the Republican Party. He succeeded retiring Senator George Voinovich. From 1993 to 2005, Portman served in the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 2005, representing Ohio's 2nd congressional district, which stretches along the Ohio River from the Hamilton County suburbs of Cincinnati east to Scioto County and Pike County. Portman won seven consecutive congressional elections with over 70 percent of the vote. Portman served in two federal cabinet positions under the administration of President George W. Bush. From May 2005 to May 2006, he was the U.S. Trade Representative. From May 2006 to June 2007, he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Robert Portman was born in 1955 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to entrepreneur Bill Portman and his wife Joan. When he was young, his father borrowed money to start the Portman Equipment Company, a forklift dealership where he and his siblings all worked growing up. Weekly Standard profile, Portman "developed a political philosophy grounded in entrepreneurship," having grown up "[hearing] talk about regulations, and taxes, and government getting in the way of small business" because of his early experiences with his family business. Portman graduated from Cincinnati Country Day School in 1974 and went on to attend Dartmouth College, where he majored in anthropology and earned a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree in 1979. He earned his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1984 and worked for two years as an international trade attorney at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Patton Boggs. Portman returned to Cincinnati in 1986 and was employed at the law firm Graydon, Head, and Ritchey (GH&R). In 1989, he began his career in public service 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, he was elected to the House of Representatives.Portman and his wife Jane are residents of Terrace Park in Hamilton County. They have three children.
The company grew from a small business with five employees and Joan Portman as bookkeeper to one that employed over 300 people. According to a 2010
In 1993, Portman entered a special election to fill the seat of Congressman Willis D. Gradison Jr., who had stepped down to become president of the Health Insurance Association of America. In the 1993 Republican primary, 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.During the election campaign, Portman was criticized by Buchert for his previous law firm's work with Haitian President Baby Doc Duvalier. Buchert also called Portman "the handpicked choice of the downtown money crowd" and "a registered foreign agent for the biggest Democrat lobbying firm in Washington," labeling Portman as "Prince Rob."In the primary, Portman won only Hamilton County, taking 17,531 votes (35.61%) overall. In the general election, Portman 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. He was sworn in as a member of the 103rd Congress on May 5, 1993.
Portman was re-elected in 1994, 1996, and 1998, defeating Democrats Les Mann, Thomas R. Chandler, and Waynesville mayor Charles W. Sanders, respectively. Portman faced Sanders again in the next three elections, and served until accepting the position of U.S. Trade Representative.
U.S. House of Representatives (1993-2005)
As a U.S. Representative, Portman authored or co-authored over a dozen bills that became law, including legislation to reform the Internal Revenue Service, curb unfunded mandates, expand pensions, 401(k), and IRA plans offered by small businesses, and create Cincinnati's National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Portman also co-authored legislation to swap Costa Rica's debt for the preservation of tropical forests, eliminate capital gains taxes on the sale of most homes,three bills to promote drug prevention and education, and a bill to help prisoners safely reenter society.Portman has been credited for being a rational legislator who works with colleagues from both sides of the aisle. Of Portman's work on the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union said, "He set a professional work environment that rose above partisanship and ultimately gave taxpayers more rights." Democratic Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones from Cleveland said Portman, "compared to other Republicans, is pleasant and good to work with." Rob Portman has said that his proudest moments as a U.S. Representative were "when we passed the balanced budget agreement and the welfare reform bill."
United States Trade Representative (2005-2006)
On March 17, 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Portman to be United States Trade Representative, and Portman was confirmed on April 29. He was sworn in on May 17, 2005. In a special election, Jean Schmidt was elected to fill Portman's seat. In preparation for the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2005, Portman proposed large cuts in tariffs and global agriculture subsidies, as well as the elimination of export subsidies. Portman's plan called for deep cuts in subsidies for developed countries, including for the United States, European Union, and Japan; he also called for lesser cuts for developing countries.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget (2006-2007)
On April 18, 2006, President Bush nominated Portman to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Portman was confirmed on May 26, 2006. Portman replaced Joshua Bolten, who had been appointed White House Chief of Staff. On June 19, 2007, Portman resigned his position of OMB director, citing a desire to spend more time with his family and three children.
In 2007, Portman founded the Ohio's Future PAC, 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."
On January 14, 2009, two days after Ohio Senator George Voinovich announced he would not seek re-election, Portman officially declared his candidacy for the open seat. Portman ran against Ohio Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher. According to National Review, by July 2010, Portman had a "9-to-1 cash advantage" over Fisher. Rob won the election a margin of 57 to 39 percent, winning 82 of Ohio's 88 counties.
In May of 2011, Portman was prepared to give a speech at a graduation ceremony for the University of Michigan, his alma mater. Although Portman opposes gay marriage, fewer than fifty of the four hundred graduates left the room during the senator's remarks.
In December 2004, Portman and Cheryl Bauer published a book on the nineteenth century Shaker community at Union Village, in Turtlecreek Township, Warren County, Ohio. The book, entitled Wisdom's Paradise: The Forgotten Shakers of Union Village, was based on a high school paper that Portman had written. Portman became interested in the topic because his maternal grandparents, had decorated their hotel 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. The article, coauthored by Dan Reicher, is about a kayak trip Portman took in China in 1984. The article also appeared in Small Boat Journal.
August 5th, 2011