Dr. Amy Acton, the former state health director whose entry into the U.S. Senate race in Ohio had been highly anticipated, said Tuesday she will not run, after all.
Acton, a Democrat, would have brought limited political experience to the race but strong name recognition gained from appearing alongside Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on widely watched virus briefings last year that aired daily online and on television.
Acton, 55, did not address the reasons behind her decision in a statement. Rather, she used it to urge Ohioans to play a role in the shape of the state’s and nation’s future, noting that “much has been exposed and revealed” by the coronavirus pandemic the public health expert helped fight.
“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,” Acton’s statement read. “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.”
Acton had garnered important national support for her would-be run, including from 314 Action, a nonprofit political action committee that recruits candidates from scientific professions to politics, which had pledged to spend $5 million on her behalf.
Her decision eases the way for veteran U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan in next year’s Democratic primary. Ryan has not yet announced, but has key backing for his campaign from some influential Democrats, including former Gov. Ted Strickland and Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 presidential nominee.
No Democrat has yet entered the race, however, even as the Republican field continues to grow.
Bernie Moreno, a Cleveland businessman whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia when he was a child, entered the race as a Republican on Tuesday.
His announcement said he is joining the race because he wants “to stop the socialist agenda, protect the gains made by President Donald J. Trump, and protect the American Dream.”
He is the third Republican to enter the race, after former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken. Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons is also exploring a bid.
Mandel, in particular, has used divisive language on his Twitter account as he attacks Timken, DeWine and Democratic President Joe Biden.
Gillispie is based in Cleveland. Associated Press reporter Kantele Franko contributed to this report from Columbus.