Robert 'Rob' Jones Portman

Contact Information

Telephone:202-224-3353 (Main phone number)
Telephone:513-444-6334 (Main campaign number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Cincinnati, OH
Residence:Terrace Park, OH
First Elected:2010


Next Election:2016

Undergraduate education: Dartmouth College


Graduate education: University of Michigan


Rob Portman was born in Cincinnati and resides in Terrace Park, Ohio. He earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Dartmouth College in 1979 and a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1984.

Portman interned for Rep. Bill Gradison of Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, and in 1993 won a special election to succeed him in the U.S. House. He was elected to a full term in 1994 and was re-elected five times before leaving office in 2005 to become a U.S. trade representative in then-President George W. Bush's administration.

Portman also was Bush's budget director and served as a White House legal counsel in former President George H.W. Bush's administration.

He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

He was an international trade attorney with firms in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.

Portman and his family own the oldest continuously operating business in Ohio, the historic Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon.

His net worth is in the seven figures, which he attributes to the equipment business his father started, his own law practice including a partnership in a Cincinnati firm, the Golden Lamb, and real estate and other investments.

He and his wife, Jane, have three children.


Rob Portman's national profile has risen with his mention as a possible running mate to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. Portman's experience as White House staffer and Cabinet-level official in the administrations of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and veteran senator and congressman have kept his name in play. He also is from a key swing state, Ohio.

Before gaining national recognition, he was commonly described as bland, uncharismatic and little known outside of Washington or his home area. However, he was an early supporter and vigorous campaigner for Romney, and had previously been vetted for Washington jobs and also considered by Sen. John McCain as a possible running mate in 2008.

From his start in the Senate, Portman was looked upon as a good resource on fiscal and trade matters, and he helped develop a Republican "jobs agenda" based on conservative trademarks of cutting taxes and regulations. He was named to the special bipartisan congressional committee on deficit reduction, but the so-called Super Committee couldn't work through its differences in late 2011.

In response to the Supreme Court's June 2012 decision upholding the 2010 health care reform bill, Portman said that there is a better way to improve the health care system. "While the court has deemed the law constitutional as a tax on the American people, it is still flawed policy that is unaffordable for our families, our small businesses, and our government," he said.

Portman has become known as an effective partner for debate practice; he has played the roles of Barack Obama, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Joe Lieberman to help Republicans prepare for their debates.

When George W. Bush became president, Portman's name turned up on the short list for several administration jobs. He ultimately was appointed U.S. trade representative. Later, he was named director of the Office of Management and Budget.

During the second Bush administration, Portman was considered "the man to talk to" about the federal budget or pension issues. "I am situated pretty well," he said during a stint as liaison between the White House and Congress. At the time he declared his "loyalty and allegiance" to the success of the Bush administration.

Portman was an associate White House counsel during President George H.W. Bush's administration and eventually became director of its Office of Legislative Affairs. He used his contacts from this period frequently in his role as the go-between for the George W. Bush White House and House leadership. In that role, Portman was often called upon to help move Bush-backed legislation through the House, such as the bill creating the Department of Homeland Security.

During his time as a representative, the soft-spoken and meticulous Portman was known among fellow members of Congress for his detailed knowledge of tax and finance issues and for the calm way in which he approached colleagues.

He worked on legislation that, when signed into law in 1998, simplified the tax code and increased Internal Revenue Service oversight and accountability. Liberal groups, however, said his IRS proposals and attempts to change federal pension law to help small businesses did too little for average workers.

Portman had a rare disagreement with Bush regarding pension issues. The president had proposed creating tax-free savings accounts as part of his economic recovery package. Portman said such accounts would reduce the incentive for business owners to offer retirement plans to their employees.

"We've agreed to disagree," Portman said at the time.

Portman in 1995 helped guide through the House legislation to prevent unfunded federal mandates, requirements imposed by Congress on state and local governments.

He sponsored the Tropical Forest Conservation Act in 1998, which offers incentives to countries that safeguard their rain forests. The measure passed both houses with overwhelming support after Portman urged colleagues to vote for the bill as a way to promote U.S. interests in a variety of areas, including the fight against narcotics trafficking.

He wrote legislation to preserve and protect historic sites of the Underground Railroad and supported a bill to allow display of the Ten Commandments in public places.

In 1995, he organized a community drug-fighting effort in Cincinnati that relies on churches, schools and local media but uses no federal money. He considers his work on bills that promote drug-free communities to be his biggest accomplishment.

Committee Assignments: Budget; Armed Services; Energy and Natural Resources; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

American Conservative Union Rating: 75

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 15


Rob Portman is not up for re-election in 2014.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 7, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018