By Amanda Carey
Ohio Rep. Steven C. LaTourette issued a broadside to his Republican colleagues on Tuesday, July 31, when he abruptly announced his resignation from Congress. A well-known moderate, LaTourette is a close friend of Speaker John A. Boehner, and has been in the U.S. House for nine terms. He had already won his primary, and was expected to sail to an easy re-election in November. The announcement immediately sparked intense speculation.
But LaTourette’s decision to delay his announcement long enough to avoid a special primary election left both parties in Ohio scrambling to find viable candidates. The Democratic Party is already moving to replace its nominee, Dale Virgil Blanchard, with a top-tier candidate. Potential Republican candidates include former state Sens. Kevin Coughlin and Tim Grendell, former State Rep. Matt Dolan, Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce, Lake County Judge Vince Culotta and state Sen. Frank LaRose.
During a press conference, LaTourette said his decision was a result of becoming increasingly frustrated over the growing polarization in Congress. “I have reached the conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground,” he said. LaTourette cited two specific moments of frustration that contributed to his decision: Congress’ inability to pass a transportation bill, and its gridlock over deficit reduction. He refuted rumors that his decision was brought on by disappointment over being denied the chairmanship of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee. LaTourette did say, however, in order to rise within party ranks, lawmakers must hand over “your wallet and your voting card.”