By David Skolnick
and Marc Kovac
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, the first congressman from Ohio to endorse Donald Trump, said he’s interested in joining the president-elect’s administration if the right offer is made.
“I want to move America forward so if they were to come to me and it was an opportunity I felt qualified for – I’m not saying I’m not pleased with my [congressional] election victory and I’m fully determined to do the job – I would have to” consider it, Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, said Wednesday. “I have no expectation I’ll be offered anything.”
But Johnson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, said he would love to work at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Any veteran or military officer would find it appealing, particularly if that person had the commitment of the president, like Donald Trump has, for veterans,” Johnson said.
Reform is needed at the VA to provide better treatment, he said.
Of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Johnson said she “was an untrustworthy and corrupt candidate and the Democratic Party – the party that giants like John F. Kennedy and Harry S. Truman once called home – was wrong to nominate her.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from the Cincinnati area, spoke Wednesday to Vice President-elect Mike Pence to discuss the victory.
“We had a good conversation,” Portman told reporters at his campaign’s Columbus office. “We’ve been in touch over the weeks, and we talked about how to begin right away in working together on policy issues to try to break through some of the gridlock in Washington.”
Portman easily topped Democratic challenger Ted Strickland on Tuesday, with more than 58 percent of the vote, versus the former governor’s nearly 37 percent.
Trump also won Ohio and other swing states on his way to a historic victory, despite some Republicans – including Portman – pulling their endorsements of his candidacy in the final weeks of the campaign.
Portman wrote in Pence’s name for president, which didn’t count as a vote. Portman said he wasn’t concerned about potential repercussions for himself or Ohio as a result of that move.
“I’m looking forward and I’m, as you can tell today, actually excited about the opportunity to have a fresh start in Washington – a new Congress, a new presidency,” he said. “People expect us to put aside the campaign and to get working on issues important to them.”
He added, “People are tired of the dysfunction in Washington.
The continued GOP majority in the Senate, Portman said, was “good for the country,” with senators ready to crack down on unfair trade deals, replace President Barack Obama’s signature health care law and implement other policy proposals pressed during the campaign.
“It gives us an opportunity to move forward on that pro-growth agenda I talked about, whether it’s to fix this broken tax code and bring some of that money that’s perhaps overseas back to this country,” he said. “I’d like to invest some of that in infrastructure.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, both Democrats and strong supporters of Clinton, said they are willing to work with Trump and the congressional Republican majority to help their constituents.
“Now it’s time to bring our country together, and I am ready to get to work for all Ohioans,” said Brown of Cleveland. “I have worked with many people throughout my career. That’s the job Ohioans elected me to do and I will keep working with my colleagues on both sides to find common ground and get things done for the people of our state.”
Ryan of Howland, D-13th, said he was “surprised” by the results, praising Clinton as a “role model to me and to millions of men and women across the country. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude for everything Secretary Clinton has sacrificed, fought for and achieved over the last 30 years serving the American people.”
Ryan also said he wanted to “congratulate President-elect Trump on his victory and will be listening closely as he begins to discuss his plans for our future. I stand ready to work with him in any way that will benefit the constituents of my district.”