Democrats weigh "Dr. Fauci of Ohio" in Senate race
Some Democrats are looking to a political outsider described as the "Dr. Fauci of Ohio" to replace Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate.
Why it matters: Amy Acton, former director of the Ohio Department of Health, gained a grassroots following last year when she briefed Ohioans about the state of the coronavirus. Her celebrity could help in a Republican state, and against potential GOP rivals such as Rep. Jim Jordan.
Driving the news: Portman, a Republican, announced Monday he will not run for a third term in 2022, citing "partisan gridlock."
- There's early enthusiasm among Democrats to nominate a woman and to push Rep. Tim Ryan to instead run against Gov. Mike DeWine.
- Connie Schultz, whose husband, Democrat Sherrod Brown, is the other senator from Ohio, called Acton "smart and tough," and tweeted Monday: "You can stop texting me only men's names for the Democratic candidate. Ohio may have other plans."
Background: Historically, open seats are more competitive, and both parties' primaries are expected to be crowded.
- Acton quickly became an unlikely icon to Ohioans, praised for her poise and compassion during one of the most distressing times for the country.
- Something she said at one of her daily public health updates — "I am not afraid; I am determined." — was emblazoned on T-shirts.
- Fans launched a "Dr. Amy Acton Fan Club" on Facebook, and it's since attracted over 124,000 people — twice the size of Acton's hometown of Youngstown.
What they're saying: "Sometimes I feel I don't deserve all this attention I'm getting," Acton said last March.
- She could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Her employer, the Columbus Foundation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- Cleveland.com, citing its own sources, reported Acton is "considering" a run.
Ohio is a challenging state for Democrats. Donald Trump won the state by about 8 points in both the 2016 and 2020 elections.
- Some consultants have compared a potential Senate contest between Acton and Jordan to the high-spending race in South Carolina last fall between Democrat Jaime Harrison and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.