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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

LaTourette's decision to retire is shocking

I have to say that I was pretty shocked to learn the news that U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette had decided to retire from Congress.

Many people including me had thought if there was ever a candidate who was the toughest to beat in a bid for re-election in this region it would be the Bainbridge Township Republican.

After all, he’s been elected to Congress every two years since he first won in 1994, and each time it wasn’t really close.

I know many people from Northeast Ohio would have loved to run for Congress over the years, Democrats and Republicans alike but backed off. Now they may have their chance.

Before many didn’t gave a run serious consideration figuring it was an uphill battle, plus with LaTourette’s reputation as a moderate and someone who was easy to work with, he appealed to Democrats, Republicans and independents.

LaTourette was always someone who could work with members of the opposite party such as U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Marcia L. Fudge and the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Much of his legislation he would sponsor had bipartisan co-sponsors.

Here’s what Fudge had to say after LaTourette’s announcement:

“Congressman LaTourette has always been a champion for his district and all of Northeast Ohio; a leader who preferred common sense and meeting the needs of people over towing the party line,” Fudge said. “We need more people like Steve who are gracious and willing to reach across the aisle. I will miss his wit and ability to get things done. His departure from Congress will be a loss to the Ohio delegation. I wish him well in his future plans.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also weighed in with his thoughts:

“As the dean of the House Republican delegation from Ohio, Steve has been a leader for our entire state, and I have enjoyed working closely with him both when I was in the House and now in the Senate,” Portman said. “He is a good friend whose results-oriented approach and expertise on issues important to Northeast Ohio and the nation will be missed by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.”

This is what Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said:

“Steve LaTourette is a proven leader with a lifetime of service to the people of Ohio. His leadership stretched far beyond typical congressional boundaries and he will be missed by all Ohioans," Bennett said. "I look forward to working together with Congressman LaTourette and all local Republican leaders in choosing a new face to campaign with this fall.”

The Ohio Democratic Party issued a statement after LaTourette's announcement:

“Congressman LaTourette was absolutely right when he said today that the ‘atmosphere in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground.’ House Republicans, led by Speaker Boehner, continue to set record disapproval levels for Congress because their radical, ideological tea party freshmen refuse any and all forms of compromise. A month doesn’t pass where these ideologues don’t threaten to shut down the government, or hold work hostage that is important to Ohio’s economy, like passing a Farm Bill during the worst drought we’ve seen in decades.

Northeast Ohio had the advantage of enjoying LaTourette’s friendship with Speaker John Boehner, who is from the Cincinnati area.

But alas, a change in how Washington now operates — featuring gridlock and resistance to compromise and finding common ground — wore thin on him.

So now, LaTourette will leave Congress on his own terms continuing to serve until January. He will be able to enjoy spending time with his family and as he put it “getting my life back”.

It will be difficult for the next person who wins a seat in Ohio’s 14th Congressional District to fill the shoes of LaTourette, if that’s possible.

After a new Republican nominee is selected by the seven party chairman and central committee secretaries within the congressional district, voters will see a new name on the ballot Nov. 6.

It will be time to pay attention more than ever.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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