Portune Pondering U.S. Senate Run

Feb 13, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Less than three months after winning his latest term on the Hamilton County Commission, Todd Portune is considering seeking the Ohio Democratic Party’s nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Republican George Voinovich.—-

Portune has talked to different members of his party about a potential run and is mulling whether to write a letter to the county chairpersons across the state to gauge support, according to Democratic Party sources.

Any potential campaign’s odds of success probably would be a longshot for Portune, who isn’t well-known outside of Southwest Ohio. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has expressed interest in running for the Senate seat, while former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman of Terrace Park is the frontrunner among Republicans.

Portune didn’t reply to CityBeat’s e-mail seeking comment.

Last year Portune persuaded the Hamilton County Democratic Party to cut a deal with its Republican counterpart so Portune could run for a third commission term without facing a GOP-endorsed opponent. In return, the Republican Party got to run a candidate in a separate commission race without facing a Democratic-backed challenger. At the time, Portune said he supported the deal so he could concentrate on his duties as a commissioner and not be distracted by the rigors of a campaign.

During that election season, however, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported in May that Portune was sounded out by unnamed people of influence within the Democratic Party about possibly replacing then-Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, who was under fire for a sex scandal and later resigned. Although Portune left open the option of taking the job if offered, nothing ever developed.

Portune won reelection in November, getting 63.5 percent of the vote against Ed Rothenberg, an unendorsed Republican who didn’t campaign.

In the past, Portune has eyed running for chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party and once told an area newspaper he was wooed to challenge then-U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) in 2000, but declined.