CLEVELAND — On January 6, 2021, Senator Rob Portman and Congressman Anthony Gonzalez held arguably two of the safest seats in Congress. A year later neither is seeking re-election. Portman announced his intention 19 days after January 6.
"It's harder to get things done these days that's part of it," Portman told News 5 at the time.
Gonzalez's decision would come eight months later and would be directly tied to January 6. As he was one of 10 Republican members of Congress to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump for his actions that day. At the time, he said it was a difficult decision based on the former president's actions when the Capitol was under siege.
"From what we knew he was taking meetings at that time about instituting Martial Law and trying to re-run the election under military order. That's the kind of thing that happens in third world countries, that's not the United States of America," Gonzalez told News 5 in September. "So at that point, I felt like I could no longer trust him to be the commander in chief."
On January 6 Senator Sherrod Brown spent the night sleeping in a Capitol office out of fear of what might still be out there in the streets. Stunned by the events but heartened by the bipartisanship that emerged in denouncing them, a feeling though that would quickly fade.
"Within two months Republican leaders had changed their tune and began to say well these were tourists or these people who had been indicted are political prisoners," Brown said Thursday looking back.
It's a belief he said that is now shared by many of those vying for the open Portman and Gonzalez seats. That he said sends a message that violence is an acceptable form of political discourse and why he believes people need to be held accountable.
"Those people need to be prosecuted and we also need to hold accountable and prosecute those who planned this insurrection," he said. "It was a proposed coup d'etat, attack on our government to install a president who wasn't lawfully elected and that's what's so troubling about this that they need to be held accountable."
Of Ohio's Republican Congressional delegation only Senator Portman and Congressman Dave Joyce tweeted by mid-afternoon Thursday about the anniversary. Portman tweeting "The January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, a symbol of American democracy, was a stain on our nation's history and we need to be sure it never happens again."
Joyce shared those sentiments tweeting "My views on that day have not changed. It will forever be an indelible stain on our democracy."
In an interview with News 5 on Wednesday Governor Mike DeWine who faces one if not more primary challenges from the right of his party as he runs for a second term said of the attack. "My feelings have not changed about what I saw on TV, Fran and I watched on TV on January 6 last year, a very, very sad day. A sad day in American history.
"But we are a resilient people, we're people that have a strong Constitution with a long, long tradition of conducting elections and doing them fairly, making sure that no one is cheating. So I'm optimistic about our future," DeWine said. "One day does not make a country and this is a country that has a bright, bright future."