COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Former state health director Amy Acton said Tuesday that she will not seek the Democratic nomination for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2022.
Dr. Acton, who become known to Ohioans for her work during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic, had been considering a run. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, said in February that he will not seek reelection.
“While I am not entering the race for U.S. Senate, I recognize there is a genuine longing for a fresh approach to leadership that is honest, collaborative, and empowering,” Acton said in a statement announcing her decision. “Ohioans — do not accept anything less from your elected officials. Our leaders’ words and actions matter. We must set the bar higher.” You can read her full statement below.
In her role as state health director, Acton worked alongside Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, in shaping Ohio’s response to the pandemic. She was a consistent presence at DeWine’s briefings, offering encouragement as well as facts during the initial outbreak of the virus.
Acton’s health orders were not without controversy. She and DeWine ordered nonessential businesses to close, eventually leading to protests outside of her residence in Bexley.
Although she hadn’t held elected office, Acton was seen as one of the top Democratic contenders if she chose to run. Absent her, the top potential Democratic candidates are U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes.
The seat will be important to both parties considering the Senate’s current 50-50 split.
Here is Acton’s statement:
It has been a tremendous honor to be asked to consider a run for the U.S. Senate. Like many of you, I have a profound reverence for the office, and for those who have answered the calling to public service. As such, I have given it my most thoughtful and deliberate consideration.
Please know I am deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from my fellow Ohioans, and from across the country. I especially wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to all who have worked quietly behind the scenes to help me consider this path.
While I am not entering the race for U.S. Senate, I recognize there is a genuine longing for a fresh approach to leadership that is honest, collaborative, and empowering.
Ohioans — do not accept anything less from your elected officials. Our leaders’ words and actions matter. We must set the bar higher.
Yet this moment in history calls on all of us, regardless of our politics, to address the pressing issues facing our families and communities. In the wake of the economic, racial, and health crises of 2020, what is at stake is nothing less than the heart and soul of our country. What kind of nation do we aspire to co-create? We must recognize the opportunity inherent in our mutual vulnerability, our undeniable interdependence, and our shared humanity.
Let our future honor the dignity of true public service and citizenship. I know many of us are tired of the vitriol and hate. We are weary from the battle. No one has gone untouched and much has been exposed and revealed. Yet as we cautiously re-emerge this spring, we dare to hope that a new way is possible. The opportunity for repairing and reimagining is at hand: a rebirth for ourselves, our relationships, and for the institutions of our civil society. What happens next isn’t the sole province of our elected officials. It is up to all of us. We must co-create an Ohio that ensures the enduring cultural values of kindness and justice for all.
Ohioans, it has been my privilege to witness your courage, determination, and resiliency. And your heartfelt compassion. Don’t stop now. The leader we all wish we had is YOU. In all walks of civic life, we will demand equality of voice and representation. We will empower our citizens to vote and participate in community institutions by breaking down the barriers that block them. And we will build bridges across our differences and divides.
We will inspire a culture of commitment to one another.
Together, may we act on kindness, not fear. Love, not hate.
Dr. Amy Acton
A note to my dear colleagues, fellow citizens, and friends in the press: I am humbled by the invitations. I sincerely appreciate your understanding as I take a step back from public life to carefully consider my next chapter, and how, together, we can bring healing and hope to those in need. I look forward to our future conversations and the vital work ahead.