Ted Strickalnd

Gay Marriage Stand Won't Cost Ohio GOP Senator His Seat
Portman begins to pull away in battleground state

Citing his college-age son, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman became the first Republican senator to back marriage equality. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced his decision to support marriage equality in March of 2013, he explained that his change of heart on the issue came after learning that his college-age son, Will, is gay. “It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that's of a Dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have," Portman told local reporters.

The immediate question at the time was how the Ohio freshman senator’s reversal on gay marriage would affect his re-election chances in 2016. Running in the battleground state of Ohio would guarantee a close race no matter what. Going it alone as the first Republican senator ever to support marriage equality meant Portman could be risking his seat, if not his career.

As Senate Races Heat Up, the Map Shifts
New candidates, disappointing nominees have changed expectations

Former Sen. Evan Bayh put Indiana into play when he entered the race last month. (Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images)

Since June, Marco Rubio has (possibly) saved a Senate seat in Florida for Republicans, Evan Bayh has turned Indiana into a top-tier pickup for Democrats, and marquee candidates from both parties have unexpectedly stumbled.  

It’s been that kind of summer in the fight for the Senate majority. A battleground map that once seemed set in place has instead seen a series of individual-state transformations, leaving both parties excited over newfound opportunities and worried over unforeseen liabilities.