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Dr. Amy Acton Won't Run for Senate Seat in 2022

a photo of Amy Acton
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
When she served as director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton helped lead the state's early response to the coronavirus pandemic and built a legion of fans.

Former Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton will not be running for U.S. Senate in 2022.

"Please know I am deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from my fellow Ohioans, and from across the country," Acton wrote in a press release Tuesday. "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."

Despite never holding public office, Acton announced in February that she would be exploring a run for the Ohio seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), stepping down from her job at the Columbus Foundation to "carefully consider" her plans.

"It has been a tremendous honor to be asked to consider a run for the U.S. Senate," Acton wrote. "Like many of you, I have a profound reverence for the office, and for those who have answered the calling to public service."

The first woman appointed to lead the Ohio Department of Health, Acton ascended to a statewide, and occasionally national, profile at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last year. She won praise for her presence at Gov. Mike DeWine's regular briefings, but resigned in June 2020 after blowback from Republican state lawmakers, lawsuits from businesses, and threats of violence from protesters over the state's shutdowns and COVID restrictions.

Following a short summer stint as DeWine's chief coronavirus adviser, she returned to the Columbus Foundation — where she held a job before joining state government — as director of their "Kind Columbus" initiative. Acton emphasized those values of empathy and humanity in her statement Tuesday.

"What happens next isn’t the sole province of our elected officials," Acton wrote. "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."

Acton did not indicate what her future plans entailed, concluding in her statement that she would "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."

Acton's exit leaves the Democratic field wide open for Ohio's Senate seat. Youngstown-area Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is often floated as a possible contender, but has not officially entered yet.

Meanwhile, three Republicans have already entered the race: former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken, and Northeast Ohio car dealer Bernie Moreno.
Copyright 2021 WOSU 89.7 NPR News.

Gabe Rosenberg