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Rob Portman

Rob Portman
35th Director of the Office of Management and BudgetIn office
May 29, 2006 – June 19, 2007President George W. BushPreceded by Joshua BoltenSucceeded by Jim Nussle14th United States Trade RepresentativeIn office
May 17, 2005 – May 29, 2006Preceded by Robert ZoellickSucceeded by Susan SchwabMember of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 2nddistrict In office
May 4, 1993 – May 17, 2005Preceded by Bill GradisonSucceeded by Jean SchmidtBorn December 19, 1955(1955-12-19) (age 52)
Cincinnati, OhioPolitical party Republican

Robert Jones "Rob" Portman (born December 19, 1955) is an American lawyer who has served in two cabinet positions and as a member of Congress. Most recently, he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Prior to this appointment, Portman was the United States Trade Representative, a post carrying the rank of Ambassador. From 1993 to 2005, he was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio, representing that state's 2nd congressional district (map), which stretches along the Ohio River from the Hamilton County suburbs of Cincinnati east to Scioto County.

He was confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Trade Representative on April 29, 2005, and privately sworn into his new office that day. Later, a public, ceremonial swearing-in was performed by then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card on May 17, 2005, with his friend President Bush in attendance [1]. On April 18, 2006 President Bush nominated him to fill the role of Budget Director; its former director, Joshua B. Bolten, was promoted to White House Chief of Staff.



Portman, a Methodist,[1] was born in Cincinnati and graduated in 1974 from Cincinnati Country Day School. He received a bachelor of arts degree in Anthropology from Dartmouth College in 1979 and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of Michigan in 1984. Upon his graduation, he worked as an international trade lawyer at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Patton, Boggs, and Blow from 1984 to 1986, when he returned to Cincinnati. In Cincinnati, he worked for one of the city's major law firms, Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP (GH&R), until going to work for President George H. W. Bush as Associate White House Counsel in 1989. Portman later served as director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs until 1991. He returned to Cincinnati and became a partner at GH&R, until his election to Congress.

Portman and his wife, Jane, are residents of Terrace Park in Hamilton County. They have three children.[2]

Enters Congress

Never having been a candidate for any elective office, Portman was elected to the House in his first race, which came in a special election in 1993 to complete the term of Willis D. Gradison Jr., who, three months after his re-election, resigned on January 31, 1993, to become a lobbyist for the insurance industry as president of the Health Insurance Association of America.

In the Republican primary on March 16, 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: real estate appraiser Garland Eugene Crawford of Loveland; pro-life activist Ken Callis of the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming; Robert W. Dorsey, a professor at the University of Cincinnati and township trustee in Hamilton County's Anderson Township; and Ku Klux Klan leader Van Darrell Loman of Cheviot (three other candidates filed and qualified but withdrew from the primary, former Madeira mayor Mary Anne Christie; Lebanon attorney Bruce Gudenkauf, a member of the Warren County Republican Party's central committee; and Donnie Jones, city auditor in Norwood).

In February the press reported that, according to campaign finance filings, McEwen trailed both Buchert and Portman in funds, Buchert having three times the treasury McEwen did. McEwen was endorsed by Oliver North, whose convictions from the Iran contra scandal McEwen had protested when he was in Congress. McEwen also criticized Portman for lobbying Congress to pass the tax increase President George H. W. Bush supported when Portman was a White House aide. He also criticized Portman for being a lobbyist for Oman. McEwen brought his former House colleague Jack Kemp to Ohio to campaign for him.

Portman was criticized by Buchert in the campaign for his previous law firm's work for Haitian dictator Baby Doc Duvalier, while McEwen faced questions about the bounced checks he had written on the House bank. Buchert ran campaign commercials citing McEwen's checks, the expenses of his Congressional office, and his campaign finance disclosures, while noting Portman was "the handpicked choice of the downtown money crowd" and was "a registered foreign agent for the biggest Democrat lobbying firm in Washington," labeling Portman and McEwen "Prince Rob and Bouncing Bob". Questions were also raised about whether McEwen had been illegally using his House office in his re-election campaign in 1992 when McEwen's successor, Ted Strickland, found campaign material on his office computers.

In the primary, McEwen won four of the five counties in the district, Adams, Brown, Clermont, and Warren, all of these counties save Brown having been at least in part in his old district. (In Adams, he received 77% of the vote, sixty-seven points ahead of the second-place finisher.) However, McEwen finished third in the largest county in the district, Hamilton, one he had never represented and that contained 57% of the Second District's registered voters. Portman won only Hamilton County, taking 17,531 votes (35.61%) overall, while McEwen received 14,542 (29.54%), Buchert 12,488 (25.37%), Dorsey 2,947 (5.99%), the rest scattering.

The race in the Second District, one of the most Republican in the country, was determined in the primary and Portman won all five counties in the general election. Portman spent $650,000 in his primary campaign but only $81,000 in the general election held May 4, 1993, in which he easily defeated attorney Lee Hornberger, Gradison's opponent in 1992, by 53,020 (70.1%) to 22,652 (29.1%). Portman was sworn in as a member of the 103rd Congress on May 5, 1993, less than eighteen hours after the polls closed.

Portman was easily re-elected in every election. In 1994, he defeated Democrat Les Mann, a security guard at the General Electric Company's factory in Evendale, 150,128 to 43,730 to return to the 104th Congress. In 1996, he defeated Democrat Thomas R. Chandler, a hospital technician who had lost the Democratic primary to Hornberger in 1993, and independent Kathleen M. McKnight. Portman won with 186,853 votes to Chandler's 58,715 and McKnight's 13,905, for a seat in the 105th Congress.

In 1998, his Democratic challenger was Waynesville mayor Charles W. Sanders. Portman was re-elected to the 106th Congress by a vote of 154,344 to 49,293. Portman faced Sanders again in the succeeding three elections, Sanders never getting as much as one-third of the vote. In 2000, Portman won election to the 107th Congress by 204,184 to 64,091, with Libertarian Robert E. Bidwell getting 9,266 votes. In 2002, Sanders was again nominated by the Democrats (although due to redistricting he no longer lived in the Second District). Portman won a term in the 108th Congress 139,218 to 48,785, and in 2004, Portman defeated Sanders 221,785 to 87,156. He served in the 109th Congress until April 29, 2005.

House member

Rob Portman speaks on March 17, 2005 at the White House ceremony at which President George W. Bush nominated him to be the next U.S. Trade Representative.

Portman was a member of the Ways and Means Committee and vice chair of the Budget Committee. Very close to President George W. Bush, he acted as the liaison between Congressional Republicans and the White House during the first four years of the Bush administration. In nominating him for the trade post, President Bush called Portman "a good friend, a decent man, and a skilled negotiator."

Portman was known as a legislator who reached across the aisle, and he authored or co-authored over a dozen bills that became law. These included bills to reform the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS Restructuring Act of 1998), Cincinnati's National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, curbing unfunded mandates (the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995), expanding pensions offered by small businesses and increasing the contribution limits on 401(k) plans and IRAs. Portman also helped author legislation to protect topical rainforests worldwide (The Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998), to eliminate capital gains taxes on the sale of most homes, three bills to promote drug prevention and education, and a bill that was very recently enacted to help prisoners safely reenter society (The Second Chance Act of 2008).

Portman's hometown paper described him as having "two personas: the well-connected Congressman who would surface on cable news channels as a 'talking head' for the Bush led agenda and another as the politician who drove himself from one small town pancake breakfast or Kiwanis luncheon to another in a district stretching 100 miles plus."

United States Trade Representative

On March 17, 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Portman to be United States Trade Representative. Portman was confirmed by the Senate on April 29. He resigned his Congressional seat at noon that day and the House took notice of his resignation on May 2, 2005 (see[2], [3]). His seat was filled by Jean Schmidt as a result of a special election held on August 2, 2005.

OMB Director

On April 18, 2006, President Bush nominated Portman to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 26, 2006. Portman replaced Joshua Bolten as OMB Director; Bolten was appointed White House Chief of Staff, replacing Andrew Card on April 15, 2006.

Bush immediately nominated Susan Schwab, the deputy USTR, to replace Portman as USTR. She was confirmed by the Senate in June 2006.

On June 19, 2007, Portman resigned his position of OMB director, citing personal reasons and a desire to spend more time with his family and three children. He was replaced by former Iowa Congressman and failed gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle. [4]

Published author

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, entitled Wisdom's Paradise: The Forgotten Shakers of Union Village. (Wilmington, Ohio: Orange Frazer Press, 2004. ISBN 1-882203-40-2). The basis of the book was a high school term paper Portman had written on the Shaker community. Portman became interested in the topic because his maternal grandparents, Robert and Virginia Jones, in 1926 had purchased the Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, about four miles east of the former Shaker settlement, and decorated it with Shaker furniture and artifacts often purchased at yard sales in the 1930's and 1940's.

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. Edited by Cameron O’Connor and John Lazen. Menasha Ridge Press (USA).1989. ISBN 0-89732-079-4. The article is about a kayak trip he took in China in 1984, coauthored with Dan Reicher. The article also appeared in Small Boat Journal.

Political future

Portman, currently of counsel in the Cincinnati office of the global law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, is viewed as a strong up-and-comer in the Ohio Republican Party and is considered likely to be a future Ohio candidate for Senate or Governor. In a blogpost by columnist Michael Meckler, he stated that when members of Congress were asked who they believed would be running for president in 20 years, the second most frequently mentioned name among Republicans was that of Rob Portman. He had also been much mentioned as the likely successor of Treasury Secretary John Snow until Snow resigned from his post on May 30, 2006 and George W. Bush chose Goldman Sachs CEO, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., as his replacement. According to columnist Robert Novak, Portman is President Bush's choice for Vice Presidential running mate for Senator John McCain. In Novak's March 28, 2008 article, he wrote that "Portman's background is legislative (House Republican leadership), executive (George W. Bush's Cabinet), diplomatic (U.S. trade representative) and economic (Office of Management and Budget director). He comes from a swing state (Ohio), is young enough (52) to contrast McCain and conservative enough (89 percent lifetime American Conservative Union rating)."Portman for VP. In a recent New York Times Editorial, David Brooks wrote, "Portman is an Ohioan with the mind of a budget director and a mild temperament that is a credit to his Midwestern roots. His résumé is ideal: He directed legislative affairs for the first President Bush, served in Congress for more than a decade and managed the Office of Management and Budget under Bush the younger. He excelled in every role."

See also

Electoral history

Ohio's 2nd congressional district: Results 1994–2004[3]Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 1994Les Mann 43,730 23% Rob Portman 150,128 77% 1996Thomas R. Chandler58,715 23% Rob Portman 186,853 72% Kathleen M. McKnight Natural Law13,905 5% 1998Charles W. Sanders49,293 24% Rob Portman 154,344 76% 2000Charles W. Sanders64,091 23% Rob Portman 204,184 74% Robert E. Bidwell Libertarian9,266 3% 2002Charles W. Sanders48,785 26% Rob Portman 139,218 74% * 2004Charles W. Sanders89,598 28% Rob Portman ** 227,102 72% *
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2002, James Condit, Jr. received 13 votes. In 2004, James Condit, Jr. received 60 votes.

**Portman resigned his term early to serve as U.S. Trade Representative.


  1. ^ Menendez, Albert J. "United Methodists fill 62 seats in new Congress", United Methodist News Service, December 12, 2006, citing the CQ's Guide to the New Congress and Almanac of American Politics.
  2. ^ Huffington Post
  3. ^ Election Statistics. Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved on 2008-01-10.

External links

  • [5] VP metion on "The Beltway Boys", May 24, 2008
  • [6] David Brooks Op-Ed in the New York Times
  • [7] Limbaugh VP mention
  • [8]Rob Portman: GOP Vice Presidential Candidate? by Liz Auster
  • [9] President Bush's remarks on nominating Portman
  • [10] President Bush and Portman's remarks on his swearing-in
  • [11] United States Trade Representative Official site
  • [12] Biography on USTR site


Preceded by
Bill GradisonMember of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 2nd congressional district
1993–2005 Succeeded by
Jean SchmidtPreceded by
Robert ZoellickUnited States Trade Representative
2005–2006 Succeeded by
Susan SchwabPreceded by
Joshua BoltenDirector of the Office of Management and Budget
2006–2007 Succeeded by
Jim Nussle
v • d • eDirectors of the United States Office of Management and BudgetDawesLardRoopDouglas• D W Bell • Smith • WebbPace• Lawton • DodgeHughes• Brundage • StansD E BellGordonSchultzeZwickMayoShultzWeinbergerAshLynnLanceMcIntyreStockmanWrightMillerWrightDarmanPanettaRivlinRainesLewDanielsBolten• Portman • Nussle v • d • eUnited States Trade RepresentativeHerterRoth• Gilbert • EberleDentStraussAskewBrockYeutterHillsKantorBarshefskyZoellick• Portman • Schwab

PersondataNAME Portman, Robert Jones "Rob" ALTERNATIVE NAMES SHORT DESCRIPTION 35th Director of the Office of Management and BudgetDATE OF BIRTH December 19, 1955PLACE OF BIRTH Cincinnati, Ohio, United StatesDATE OF DEATH PLACE OF DEATH
Categories: 1955 births | American lawyers | Living people | Dartmouth College alumni | Directors of the Office of Management and Budget | Hamilton County, Ohio | Members of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio | Jurists from Cincinnati | Politicians from Cincinnati | United States Trade Representatives | George W. Bush Administration cabinet members | Ohio Republicans

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