Potentially leaving his party in the lurch, Rep. Steven LaTourette (R) of Ohio is set to announce his retirement at the end of this term, the Columbus Dispatch and The Hill newspaper reported Monday evening.
The nine-term lawmaker – a longtime ally of Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and one of the dwindling ranks of GOP moderates – was one of the first Republicans to break with the antitax pledge of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, riling bedrock conservatives. He also backed the 2010 Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan, which called for tax hikes along with spending cuts and entitlement reforms.
To say his announcement amounts to pulling an Olympia Snowe – the Republican Senator from Maine announced her retirement out of the blue back in March, turning a solid Republican electoral prospect into grave peril – by announcing one’s electoral intentions deep into an election year, would be an understatement.
LaTourette pulled what might be called a Super Snowe in leaving the party scrambling for a replacement just three months before the November elections in a district, Ohio’s 14th, that is at best narrowly Republican. President Obama knotted with Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona there in 2008 at 49 to 49 percent, while President Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts in 2004 by a 53-to-47 margin.
The Monitor could not reach LaTourette’s office for comment, but the Dispatch reports that his resignation centered on a dispute with party leadership over committee assignments. While LaTourette will reportedly address the media at 10 a.m. Tuesday to formalize his announcement, the lawmaker has frequently been at odds with an increasingly conservative and compromise-averse caucus.