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Government and Politics

Northeast Ohio Congressman LaTourette fed up with Washington, announces retirement
Says lack of comprimise makes his efforts futile
This story is part of a special series.

Kevin Niedermier
Congressman Steve LaTourette announces he's retiring at his district office in Painesville.
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Northeast Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette will retire when his term expires in January. Today the moderate Lake County Republican made the surprise announcement that he’s dropping his re-election bid. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports that LaTourette says he no longer feels he can make a difference in Washington because the once-valued skill of compromise is dead.

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Looking back on his nearly 18 years in Congress, LaTourette says Washington has shifted from a time when compromise led to legislation that benefited his district and the country. And in recent years, he says he’s become frustrated in the Republicans and Democrats inability to work together, and that’s taken a toll on him personally. 

“I don’t see that opportunity anymore. But at the same time the current climate takes a toll on a person. Although it’s fashionable to make fun of politicians these days, I’m still a person, and I’ve decided the toll it takes on me as a person is now a greater weight than what I can do as the 14th District Congressman.”

LaTourette says his decision to retire was cemented by recent gridlock over deficit reduction, and Congresses delay in passing a highway funding bill.

 “These are historically 6 year bills that get 400 plus votes because we’re talking about building roads and bridges for Christ sake. We’re not talking about big Republican or Democratic initiatives. The fact that Congress and the Senate couldn’t get that done is an embarrassment to the House of Representative. It shows that people are more interested in fighting with each other than getting the no brainers done.”

Supporters from both sides of the isle show support for LaTourette

LaTourette denied media reports that he’s resigning because he was not made chairman of the House Transportation Committee. LaTourette gained a reputation for voting independently and sometimes clashing with GOP colleagues. Still, fellow Ohio Congressman and House Speaker John Boehner called LaTourette a friend and an effective legislator who fought for common-sense reforms to eliminate duplicative programs and red tape while creating a better environment for private sector job growth. Democratic Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich called LaTourette a partner on many significant Northeast Ohio issues such as preserving NASA Glenn and saving steel jobs. LaTourette cited retired Stark County Republican Congressman Ralph Regula as a mentor who taught him the art of political compromise. Regula understands LaTourette’s frustration with gridlock, but is sorry he’s leaving.

“I feel he was an excellent member of the Ohio delegation and I’m sorry to hear he’s leaving. It’s a loss to Ohio, the nation and to Congress.”

Republican Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jack Schron says LaTourette’s announcement is a loss for all of Northeast Ohio.

 “Steve LaTourette is a stand up guy. The can do attitude we both see as a positive way of going about things. Losing his expertise and skill set and ability to work within the system is a loss to Northeast Ohio. I got calls from Republicans and Democrats who were all disappointed he is leaving.”


New GOP candidate to be picked soon

Schron says he is interested in a possible run for the 14th District, but has not made any decision yet.   The 14th district stretches from Ashtabula to Akron, and is considered a Republican district. LaTourette was expected to easily defeat perennial Democratic challenger Dale Blanchard in November. GOP officials from the 7 counties in the district will decide on LaTourette’s replacement. Some names being floated are former State Representative Matt Dolan, Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce and U.S. Marshall Peter Elliot. LaTourette says he will not try to influence the decision, but will give his opinion on potential candidates if asked. When LaTourette’s congressional colleagues got word he is retiring, he says his phone started ringing.

 “Most of my colleagues in Ohio, Republicans and Democrats, called and suggested this is a mistake and wished I would reconsider. But at the end of every call, they said they understand why I’m leaving because we’re in the same business. And I’m sure if you pushed them they would express the same emotions I’m feeling.”

Listener Comments:

It is a sad day when a congressman regardless of his party affiliation resigns out of frustration. This move supports my feelings as to how far our federal government has deteriated. What a terrible shame that our congress has declined to this point when there is so many serious issues to be addressed.

Posted by: paul Hackett (naples fl) on July 31, 2012 11:07AM
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