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Steve LaTourette
Steve LaTourette (R)
It's getting way late in the game for a retirement, with the general election only 99 days away, but one last one has popped up: Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette. LaTourette is only 58, in apparently fine health and previously tight with Republican leadership, so he hadn't been on anyone's retirement watch lists. LaTourette hasn't given any explanation yet (a press conference is scheduled for tomorrow), but, according to the Columbus Dispatch, some late-breaking friction with leadership seems to have been the last straw for him:
A source said LaTourette is leaving because of a dispute with House leadership about future committee assignments.
LaTourette represents the swingy OH-14 in Ohio's northeastern corner, a mix of some of Cleveland's more affluent suburbs and rural blue-collar areas outside the metropolitan area. The 14th is one of the most narrowly-divided seats in the country; under its newly redistricted lines, it went 49 percent for Barack Obama and 49 percent for John McCain, so in theory the Democrats should be able to compete here if it's an open seat. LaTourette held the seat since 1994, where he's one of the few remaining Republican veterans swept in in that wave year.

Interestingly, while LaTourette wasn't considered particularly moderate when he entered the House, he's become one of the most moderate Republicans left in the House, by virtue of many of the northeastern Republican House members retiring or getting defeated and with the increase in Republican ranks coming mostly in southern districts that elect die-hard conservatives. Progressive Punch rates him the 12th least conservative House Republican for this Congress, right next to the likes of Dave Reichert and Jim Gerlach. That's become more notable this most recent cycle, with LaTourette one of only seven Republicans voting against stripping NPR funding and one of only two Republicans to vote against holding Eric Holder in contempt. That may be leaving LaTourette more of an odd-man-out in the caucus, and may have precipitated the tension over committee assignments that pushed him out.

It's not clear who the local Republicans will pick to replace LaTourette on the ballot (the primary occurred many months ago, so the successor will be picked by committee); GOP state Sen. John Eklund already represents a substantial piece of the 14th, so he may have a leg up if he's interested. Unfortunately, this seat wasn't on any Democratic target list until today, so local Democrats don't get a chance to pick a successor, unless they can lean on Dale Blanchard to drop out. Their nominee, Blanchard, is a perennial candidate who lost 65-32 to LaTourette in 2000 and 72-28 in 2002, and hasn't filed any FEC paperwork indicating any fundraising activity. That suggests that the Democrats aren't really in a position to contest this seat so long as Blanchard is on the ballot.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 04:06 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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