Clock Ticking to Replace Congressman LaTourette

Northeast Ohio county GOP chairs have until 4:00pm on Monday, August 13 to replace Congressman Steve LaTourette, who announced his retirement from the U.S. House on July 31, as the 14th District Republican nominee. LaTourette remained on the ballot until today in order to avoid a late primary election, leaving the seven county Republican parties in the 14th District with less than a week to name a replacement candidate.

The 14th House District encompasses Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties, and includes parts of Portage, Summit, Trumbull, and Cuyahoga counties. Ohio Revised Code 3513.31 requires the party chair in the district’s most populous county to give two days’ notice before a meeting to select a replacement.

In other words, a replacement may be named no earlier than August 10 – and any candidate currently running for a different office would have to replace LaTourette on the ballot by mid-day August 11 in order to find a new nominee for his or her current race.

Potential replacements being discussed include, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Youngstown Vindicator:

  • State Representative Ron Young
  • Lake County Common Pleas Judge Vincent Culotta
  • Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce
  • Cuyahoga County Councilman Jack Schron
  • Willoughby-Eastlake School Board member Paul Brickner
  • Matt Dolan, a former state representative
  • Ann Womer Benjamin, a former state representative
  • Colleen Mary O’Toole, a former appeals court judge

Young is currently running for the 61st District of the Ohio House, and O’Toole is a candidate for the 11th District Court of Appeals. If a replacement for LaTourette is not named by early afternoon on August 11, both Young and O’Toole will be eliminated by default, as there would not be enough time to name new candidates in their current races.

Anonymous sources claim a meeting of several 14th District party chairs was held at the home of GOP fundraiser Umberto Fedeli the night of July 30, before LaTourette announced his resignation. Sources say the likely replacement is either Joyce – who is “close” with LaTourette, according to NBC 3 WKYC – or Dino DiSanto, LaTourette’s Chief of Staff.

Media Trackers was unable to corroborate these rumors. Messages left for several 14th District county chairs earlier this week received no response in time for publication.

During his retirement announcement, LaTourette burnished his aisle-crossing credentials by decrying the House’s failure to promptly pass a bloated highway spending bill, complaining that the atmosphere “no longer encourages the finding of common ground.”

LaTourette was one of two House Republicans to vote against finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his stonewalling of the “Fast and Furious” probe, and this spring he introduced a budget following the “balanced” approach of small cuts and higher taxes favored by Democrats.

Although the timing of his announcement puts local Republican leadership in a tight spot, LaTourette’s retirement will not be mourned by conservatives. His National Taxpayers Union rating hasn’t been higher than a C+ since 2000. His Heritage Action score is 33 percent, compared to a House Republican average of 65 percent. LaTourette’s lifetime Club for Growth score is 45 percent, and his lifetime American Conservative Union rating is 68.46.

With all this in mind, Republicans in the 14th District should be especially leery of an attempt by LaTourette to hand-pick his successor – and should demand that a meeting of the county GOP chairs be held as soon as the law’s 48-hour notification requirement allows.

Leave a Reply