State Rep. Matt Lynch (R-Bainbridge Twp.) is challenging incumbent Congressman Dave Joyce (R-OH 14) for the seat formerly held by Joyce’s friend Steve LaTourette, a lobbyist working to purge conservatives from the Republican Party.
Lynch had planned to seek reelection in the 76th Ohio House District — until LaTourette’s daughter launched a campaign to oust him in the May 6 primary.
Sarah LaTourette Kayser, running under her maiden name, issued a February 6 release with familiar talking points including a prominent reference to infrastructure spending, the bread and butter of her father’s union-backed political career.
“Like many voters in the district, I am fed up with the toxic division that has defined our politics and torn apart our party,” she said. “Being a State Representative is more than just voting no and shouting down opponents.”
LaTourette returned to northeastern Ohio in 2012 after more than five years in Kentucky. Her husband, Scott Kayser, is the Northeast Ohio Regional Director for the Ohio Republican Party (ORP). Her campaign treasurer is Scott Coleman, her father’s former treasurer.
Officially, ORP supports all incumbent Republicans.
Neither the Party nor the LaTourette campaign responded to requests for comment.
“It certainly strains credibility that the wife of an employee of the Ohio Republican Party, who also happens to be Steve LaTourette’s daughter, would decide to challenge an incumbent Republican member of the legislature without a number of people up the food chain giving the nod of approval,” Rep. Lynch told Media Trackers.
“I’ve said publicly that I was born at night, but I wasn’t born last night,” Lynch joked, noting that he viewed LaTourette’s candidacy in his Ohio House district as a “green light” to primary Congressman Joyce.
“I’ve had people asking me about running for Congress and challenging Dave Joyce for at least the last year,” Lynch added. “It’s really not a new consideration for me, but party policy, you might say, is generally you don’t challenge an incumbent of your own party.”
Sarah LaTourette’s candidacy “told me that that policy really doesn’t apply anymore, that it is perfectly acceptable to challenge an incumbent in your own party,” Lynch explained.
Prior to filing this month, Lynch told anyone who asked that he didn’t have plans to run for Congress.
One of six legislators who joined the lawsuit against Republican Governor John Kasich’s enactment of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and one of only six House Republicans who voted against Kasich’s fiscal year 2014-2015 budget, Rep. Lynch has been a thorn in the side of Kasich and ORP.
By unilaterally expanding Medicaid and threatening to bankrupt the program without Obamacare funding, Kasich “essentially shredded the concept of separation of powers in the same way that Obama does with his executive orders,” Lynch told Media Trackers.
Lynch said that multiple “establishment” Republicans discouraged him from challenging Joyce — whom Lynch has previously supported, but whose voting record has disappointed conservatives hoping for a break from LaTourette’s mold.
Joyce has lifetime scores of 46 percent from FreedomWorks, 47 percent from Club for Growth, and 46 percent from Heritage Action. National Journal ranked Joyce as the 214th most liberal and 217th most conservative House member in 2013.
Media Trackers asked Lynch how he plans to compete against an incumbent who has over $1 million on hand.
“We have the feet on the street of all the liberty groups in Northeast Ohio,” Lynch asserted. “This is a very serious candidacy for me; this is not a lark or a response to anything other than my desire to promote conservative politics and policies in this country.”
“The Republican Party leadership has to stand for something,” Lynch continued.
“And if it doesn’t stand for anything but getting more Republicans elected,” he said, “then they’re no better than the Democrats.”
Congressman Joyce is a member of the big-government Republican Main Street Partnership, which is led by Steve LaTourette. Joyce was one of the first six candidates endorsed by Main Street Advocacy, the group’s political action committee.
A longtime friend of LaTourette, Joyce was selected by local GOP leadership as the Republican nominee for the 14th District seat after LaTourette announced his resignation in July 2012.
Upon leaving Congress, Steve LaTourette started a lobbying firm with his wife Jennifer, a lobbyist who worked as his chief of staff before LaTourette divorced his first wife. LaTourette now divides his time between attacking conservatives and lobbying.