WASHINGTON – After a little over a year on the job,Rob Portman is headed back to Cincinnati – and this time it's not just for the weekend.
Portman,who has served as director of the Office of Management since May 2006,announced his resignation Tuesday but said this probably isn't the end of his public service career.
“For a while now,I'm going to step away and take a break,” Portman,a resident of Terrace Park,said. “I have all the respect in the world for public service,and I hope to get back to it someday.”
Portman's time off could be beneficial in helping him plan his next political move. He could be a gubernatorial candidate in 2010,when Gov. Ted Strickland's term ends,or run for the Senate when Sen. Sherrod Brown's term is up in 2012. Portman didn't deny that he might consider these options to re-enter the political realm.
Now,however,Portman is focusing on spending more time with his family. A lawyer,he said he has not sure if he will return to his old Cincinnati law firm.
“I want to reconnect with my family and friends in my community back home,” Portman said. “I do go home every weekend,but it's usually Friday night to Sunday night with a lot of pone calls and e-mails in between.”
Portman will continue his duties as OMB director for six or seven more weeks. He said August is the best time for him to leave because,in September,work begins for the next budget. Portman has held political jobs in Washington for 14 years,including six terms in the House and a stint as U.S. trade representative.
Although Portman said he decided to resign a few months ago,he waited because he wanted a seamless transition between him and his successor,former Rep. Jim Nussle of Iowa. President Bush nominated Nussle at a White House news conference that Portman also attended. Bush explained the importance of the position Portman was leaving.
“The job of OMB director is one of the most important in our federal government,” Bush said. “The director has a central responsibility for implementing the full range of my administration's agenda,from defense programs that will keep the American people safe to energy initiatives that will break our dependence on foreign oil,to tax policies that keep our economy growing and creating jobs.”
The president also spoke of his respect for Portman.
“There's no finer man in public service than Rob Portman,” he said. “He's been a trusted adviser,and Laura and I are going to miss him.”
Portman,51,already has August booked. He's planning to take one of his teenage sons on a hiking trip in Montana,the other to a camp in New Hampshire and attend his 12-year-old daughter Sally's soccer games.
But he's not going to stay away from politics for too long.
“One reason I'm excited to go home is to spend more time with my family,and another is that it does liberate you politically,” Portman said. “It's easier to commit to some speeches and spend more time helping others. It's just hard to do that with this job; it doesn't lend itself to that.”
Portman said his favorite job was serving as a congressman for the Second District of Ohio because he was elected by his neighbors.
“There's nothing like being told by the people in your community that they want you to represent them,” Portman said.