Less than two weeks after Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) announced his sudden decision to end his bid for a tenth term, observers from Cleveland to Washington are still wondering why the moderate lawmaker (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 68.46 percent) and close friend of House Speaker John Boehner chose this strange time to say ???I???m outta here.???
Renominated in a primary and coasting to re-election in the 14th District, the 58-year-old LaTourette said on July 30 he would not run. But, he will delay his official announcement until Aug. 8, thus permitting the choice of a new Republican nominee by local party leaders rather than triggering a fresh primary.
As to why this strange turn of events, one Buckeye State GOP operative who knows the congressman well and requested anonymity, told Human Events: ???Steve never got over being passed to head the House Transportation (and Infrastructure) Committee in favor of (Pennsylvania Rep.) Bill Shuster, who is younger and has served in Congress half as long. And Steve and his second wife have young children, so he feels this is the time to be spending with them.???
But why, we asked, would LaTourette leave when friend and fellow Ohioan Boehner is at the peak of his power in the House? The same source said: ???That???s just it. Boehner is speaker now, but won???t be forever. Steve figures that if he???s going to have any success as a lobbyist or consultant, it is now, while Boehner is at the top of his game.???
Under Ohio election law, the August timing of LaTourette???s exit puts the choice of a Republican nominee in the in the hands of 14 people — that is, the chairman and secretary of the Republican committees from the parts of seven counties that comprise the 14th District. More than a few feel that this is LaTourette???s way of sticking his tongue out at the GOP right one more time. Were a primary held, few doubt that veteran State Rep. Ron Young of Lake County, a conservative in the mold of the late Ohio Rep. and conservative hero John Ashbrook, would win easily. Young has strong backing from the area tea party movement and the Right to Work Committee.
With the party leaders picking the nominee, however, odds are strong that they will turn to a more moderate, LaTourette-style nominee. The most-oft mentioned name is that of former State Rep. Matt Dolan, nephew of Cablevision founder Charles Dolan and son of Cleveland Indians owner Larry Dolan. Two years ago, Dolan lost a bid for the just-created office of Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Executive.
A third Republican mentioned is Cuyahoga County Prosecutor David Joyce, considered more conservative than LaTourette.
In stating his reasons for leaving Congress so suddenly, LaTourette said that you have to ???hand over your wallet and voting card to extremes.??? But, as is almost always the case politics, there is almost more to the story than meets the eye.