March 31, 2021


Dr. Amy Acton

Acton, the former Ohio Department of Health director who became a household name when the coronavirus began, made waves when she announced in early February that she was seriously considering joining the Senate race.

“I am stepping down from my role at The Columbus Foundation in order to carefully consider how I can best be of service at this crucial time,” Acton said in a statement Feb. 4.

The Democratic doctor has never held elected office before, but she developed a cult following during her daily coronavirus briefings with DeWine. 

As the briefings went viral, Acton also gained her share of Republican critics who attacked the coronavirus restrictions she advocated for. She ended up resigning from her health department job last summer.

A political action committee that focuses on electing scientists, 314 Action, is encouraging Acton to run and is pledging to support her in big ways.

“We’re prepared to spend up to $5 million for Dr. Acton — in the primary, if she formally enters,” spokesman John Sweeney told Spectrum on March 26. “We were encouraged by the consistency of the polling we did for the primary and the general.”

The group has commissioned primary and general election polling that shows Acton with decent favorability numbers and fairing better in matchups against Republicans compared to Rep. Ryan.

“The pandemic is going to do for doctors and scientists what the Iraq war did for veteran candidates,” Josh Morrow, the executive director of the 314 Action Fund, told Spectrum in an interview March 22.

If Acton gets into the race, it will be the first time 314 Action has supported a candidate for statewide office in Ohio. The group is also encouraging Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who has a background as a chemist, to run for governor.

A person close to Acton told Spectrum News on March 26 that Acton is still in the consideration stage.

“Seeing the numbers from 314…is extremely encouraging,” the person said, adding that if Acton enters the race, her team is confident she we also receive support from other outside groups like EMILY’s List and will be capable of raising large sums of money.

Acton has kept a low profile since February, but the person close to her said she recently received her COVID-19 vaccine in Columbus and was met with “a love fest” of fans who recognized the doctor and asked for photos.

She also recently received an American Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year award.

The person said Acton is “having a lot of individual conversations and private conservations” that are “encouraging,” and added that “a lot of it’s not the usual suspects,” so political watchers may be surprised by who’s supporting her if she joins the race.

Read on Spectrum News 1.