Skip to comments.Portman’s potential has GOP excited
Posted on 11/28/2004 11:20:01 AM PST by Deadeye Division
Portmans potential has GOP excited
Party, strategists say congressman can go far, but its not clear which road hell take
Sunday, November 28, 2004
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
WASHINGTON Speaker of the U.S. House? Governor of Ohio? U.S. senator? Vice president of the United States? Even president?
Some savvy political minds here and in Ohio think one or more of those jobs could lie ahead for Rep. Rob Portman, a courteous Cincinnati Republican whose attempts to downplay such talk arent dousing all the intraparty enthusiasm.
Portman, a reliably conservative voter in the House, also has worked with Democrats to pass substantive legislation in areas such as pension reform. His growing legion of GOP fans think he has a potent combination of political assets.
Portman has the conservative credentials necessary to win favor from the Republican base but doesnt come across as a right-wing ideologue in a state that seems to want its elected officials to hug the center.
Although Ohio is replete with statewide-elected Republicans, a number of GOP strategists and fund-raisers say Portman has the potential to leap from the relative obscurity of his congressional district into the governors chair or a Senate seat. He has the drive and talent to seek national office, they add.
Portmans "got something special," said Washington-based GOP strategist Barry Bennett, who helped run Portmans first congressional campaign. "He has the charm of a Bill Clinton, but an intellect and work ethic that is far superior. Given the state hes from and how far hes come in just 10 years, this is a guy who has a legitimate shot at being president someday."
Its talk that Portman eschews, for the most part. He says hes focused on helping advocate overhauls of Social Security and the tax code from his perch on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
"A lot of this is just the (post-election) vacuum in news and political activity," said Portman, who admits he would like to be a senator someday. "This notion that Im such an ambitious guy surprises me because sometimes my political advisers say Im not ambitious enough. I just want to do a good job where I am and move issues forward."
But his supporters note that Portman, who already raises millions of dollars in campaign cash from his House seat, is close to President Bush and other top White House officials and advisers. That list includes Mercer Reynolds, of Cincinnati, who served as finance chairman for Bushs re-election campaign, and other major Cincinnati-area GOP fundraisers. Portman easily could raise the needed money to run statewide and elevate his profile among Ohio voters, backers say.
At least three statewide Republican officeholders want to run for governor in 2006, but recent speculation has focused on a supposed scheme to appoint Portman to the about-tobe-vacant lieutenant governors job. Under that scenario, Portman would rise to governor before 2006 if Gov. Bob Taft were given a post in the Bush administration.
Portman and senior White House officials say there is no such plan.
One such denial comes from Karl Rove, architect of Bushs two successful White House runs.
But Rove is well aware of Portman and doesnt seem surprised by all the speculation swirling around him.
"Hes very bright. Hes got a great mind. He is a great listener," Rove said last week. "Hes clearly a great talent for the future."
Portmans boosters say that future would be better served by a straight run for governor, with no machinations. They say an attractive, young Republican governor from Ohio would instantly rise to that mythical "short list" of potential vice presidential candidates in 2008.
Or, his advocates say, Portman, 48, could wait, increase his stature in the House and run for a U.S. Senate seat when a GOP incumbent steps down.
Some insiders think that Republican Sen. Mike DeWine still might run for governor in 2006 and that Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich may retire in 2010.
"People are searching for what (Portmans) future is," said Rep. David L. Hobson, RSpringfield.
With his coveted committee seat and his enthusiastic support of Bushs tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, Portman is a favorite of economic conservatives.
"We think very highly of him," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "Ohio could use a Republican governor who is aggressive in cutting taxes."
Some GOP consultants say that, as a member of the House, Portman lacks needed statewide and national visibility. Despite its stature as a vital swing state, Ohio hasnt produced a president since Warren G. Harding was elected in 1920. And running for national office from Congress has been largely a no-win proposition in modern times.
"Theres no question that Portman is a talent," said one Republican strategist. "But in order for him to play on the national stage, the best thing to do is find a statewide position to run for. Timing is everything in politics."
Norquist suggested that Portman would be an attractive vice presidential candidate in 2008. "Im seeing the box hes stuck in. The Senate seats are not opening up. The governorship is a tough one," Norquist said.
Many Democrats view Portman, who served as Bushs Ohio communications chairman for his re-election campaign and traveled through most of the state for the campaign, with a jaundiced eye.
Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland of Lisbon, a possible gubernatorial candidate, said that on issues such as pension reform, Portman has operated in a bipartisan fashion. But on taxes and many other fronts, Portman is a "classic corporate Republican," Strickland said.
He questions how well Portman would do outside his conservative district, especially in Democratic urban strongholds such as Cleveland and Toledo.
But Portmans GOP backers say he is a political pragmatist who has the ability to communicate to a diverse audience.
"Robs pretty conservative, but Democrats trust him," said Joe Hagin, White House deputy chief of staff and a childhood friend of Portmans from Cincinnati. "He has tried hard to reach out and work with Democrats. Hes interested in getting stuff done."
Dispatch reporter Jack Torry contributed to this story.
KEN BLACKWELL FOR GOVERNOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Why is the job of Hamilton County (Cincy Metro) Prosecutor, Deters' new job, better than State Treasurer, his old one? Seems weird to me. Is it viewed as some major stepping stone. Who are the famous former Hamilton County Prosecutors?
Oh foo, I thought this was gonna be about Natalie Portman.
Anyone this liked by Democrats gets my beeber working. His latest ACU is 84, which is dipping a little lower than I like.
He has an 89 lifetime. Not too bad. The prescription drug bill got everyone knocked down a few points.
The 2006 gubeneratorial race is already crowded with Jim Petro, Betty Montgomery, and conservative favorite Ken Blackwell.
As for the D's it looks like Ted Strickland will be handed the nomination.
The Dems will lose because they lose every off year election by atleast 10 points. So the Republican Primary is where all the action is.
hhhhmmmm...(thinking) - "Party, strategists say [Natalie Portman]can go far"
Please, yes....as far as possible. We've got enough pics of her now.
Oh, not Natalie Portman. Nevermind.
Natalie Portman's potential has Petronski excited.
Her real name is Natalie Herglash.
I don't care if her name is Natalie Poopiehead.
Actually, it's Hershlag.
I agree with you about the mega-expensive drugs for the blue haired set bill.
You're right. I couldn't remember what Parade Magazine said today. She's on the cover.
Deters was formerly the Prosecutor in Hamilton County until 1998. A couple of close associates to Deters were convicted of some ethics and election law violations. There have been allegations of "pay-to-play" in his office. A former Chief of Staff was convicted of the ethics violation of misuse of public office. Deters was found to do no wrongdoing. Deters was mentioned as a candidate for attorney general in 2006.
Things changed dramatically in August when Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen, who was a future statewide hopeful, admitted to having a three-year plus sexual relationship with an assistant prosecutor in his office. Allen was unopposed and was pressured into withdrawing from the race, which he did. He also resigned from his position as SW Ohio regional chair for Bush-Cheney and as a University of Cincinnati trustee. It was quite a fall from grace. Allen was a former Hamilton County GOP chairman and had major potential.
Hamilton County and Ohio Republican officials were able to get Deters to go back to Cincinnati to run as a write-in candidate for Prosecutor since the deadline passed. He was victorious on election day.
Deters is the only former Hamilton County prosecutor that I can remember that has gone on to higher pastures. It is definitely a step down for Deters and it is unknown whether he will be back on a statewide level.
Rob Portman should have run against Voinovich in the GOP Senate primary last year. Ohioans deserve a Senator who will vote to lower their taxes.
But since Ken Blackwell will be the next Governor of OH, Portman will have to settle with being Speaker of the House when Hastert has had enough, or maybe as a VP candidate in 2008.
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