Rep. Steven LaTourette (R)
Ohio 14th District
The imprint of the westward track of New England Yankee migration is still apparent today on the shores of Lake Erie in northern Ohio. The Yankees, cooped up in New England for 200 years, shot west across the country through upstate New York, across Ohio and Michigan to Chicago, and on to Kansas and southern California in just two or three generations, providing inspiration, manpower and technical might for the Union victory in the Civil War and leaving their imprint along the way. One place they stopped was the Western Reserve, the northeast corner of Ohio, created for the excess population of Connecticut. Its towns, colleges and cultural institutions were established by Yankees. This area produced some of the nation’s strongest opposition to slavery and strongest support of the Union armies and the Republican Party; Lake Erie ports were prime transit points for the Underground Railroad to Canada. Its thrifty, hardworking, well-educated citizens built communities with fine schools and, with their accumulated savings, invested in what became some of the nation’s leading industries. A century ago, that brought great masses of immigrants to Cleveland and the other cities of northeast Ohio. Now, like Connecticut and Massachusetts, it may be moving toward a post-industrial economy. Factory employment has dropped. Chrysler is scheduled to close its Twinsburg factory and lay off 1,250 people in late 2010. But total jobs are holding steady. Small, adaptive business units with highly skilled workers are the growth sectors.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 14th Congressional District of Ohio takes in parts or all of seven counties of northeast Ohio and the old Western Reserve. It includes Lake County, northeast of Cleveland, and Geauga County, with prosperous suburbs amid Western Reserve villages that still yield 25% of the state’s maple syrup even though the loss of farmland has cut production. Ashtabula, home to 17 covered bridges and several wineries, is in the district, as is the northern part of Trumbull County, which is industrial. The district includes the affluent suburbs at the eastern edge of Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County, the comfortable suburbs in northern Summit County and some of Portage County to the east. In the 19th century, the Western Reserve was heavily Republican. The congressman from the area from 1863 to 1880 was James Garfield, a Civil War general who was elected president in 1880 and assassinated the following year. In the 1930s, the area became politically competitive, as Cleveland became heavily Democratic, and it has remained so in most years since. But the district was designed to gather together Republican territory in the Western Reserve, and it voted twice in presidential elections for Republican George W. Bush. In 2008, Republican nominee John McCain won the district, 49.4%-49.2%.
Rep. Steven LaTourette (R)
Elected: 1994, 8th term.
Born: July 22, 1954, Cleveland .
Education: U. of MI, B.A. 1976, Cleveland St. U., J.D. 1979.
Family: Married (Jennifer Laptook); 5 children.
Elected office: Lake Cnty. district atty., 1988-94.
Professional Career: Lake Cnty. asst. public defender, 1980–83; Practicing atty., 1983–88.
The congressman from the 14th District is Steven LaTourette, a Republican elected in 1994. He grew up in the Cleveland area and went to law school at Cleveland State University. In the 1980s, he worked as a public defender and in 1988, became Lake County district attorney. Well-known and well-liked, he won a three-candidate Republican primary with 54% of the vote to compete for the House seat. In the general election, he challenged freshman Rep. Eric Fingerhut. LaTourette attacked Fingerhut for backing President Bill Clinton’s budget and tax increases and for being soft on crime. He won 48%-43%. In January 2009, LaTourette won a seat on the coveted Appropriations Committee, though to get the spot, he had to give up his seats on the House Financial Services Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
|Steven LaTourette (R)||188,488||(58%)||($1,425,133)|
|Bill O'Neill (D)||125,214||(39%)||($553,388)|
|David Macko (Lib)||9,511||(3%)|
|Steven LaTourette (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (58%), 2004 (63%), 2002 (72%), 2000 (69%), 1998 (66%), 1996 (55%), 1994 (48%)
In the House, LaTourette has the most moderate voting record of Ohio’s Republican members. He was an ardent advocate of a minimum-wage hike and broke with House Republicans to oppose normalizing trade relations with China, though he did deliver crucial, last-minute support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement. He later said that he regretted that vote. In a major break with his party in January 2007, he voted for most of the bills in the new Democratic majority’s agenda, except for the energy proposal.
As a senior member of the Transportation panel, LaTourette’s high-priority projects have included improvements of Ohio Routes 82 and 8, plus enactment of legislation to add Ashtabula, Mahoning and Trumbull counties to the Appalachian Regional Commission. In May 2009, he was promised by the Obama administration and Chrysler company officials that, despite the company’s imminent bankruptcy filing, the plant in his district would remain open and its 1,250 employees would keep their jobs. Days later, after the bankruptcy proceedings became official, the company announced that the plant would close. LaTourette accused the administration and Chrysler of lying, and a Chrysler lobbyist called him to apologize for the “misunderstanding.”
As a member of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in 2004, LaTourette took seriously the responsibility of committee members to render bipartisan decisions and joined in unanimous committee votes to admonish GOP Majority Leader Tom DeLay on three ethics charges. When GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert, without explanation, removed him from the committee in 2005, LaTourette was privately unhappy with his punishment but did not say so publicly. In 2007, he voiced disapproval of attacks on Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana, who was a suspect in a federal bribery investigation. The partisan skirmishing over Jefferson, he said, amounted to “the dumbing-down of the House,” with both parties to blame.
In contrast to many members of the Class of 1994, LaTourette quickly secured his formerly Democratic seat without a competitive challenger. In 2004, the challenger was Democrat Capri Cafaro, a 26-year-old shopping-center heiress who spent nearly $2 million of her own money. Cafaro struggled with the issues, and LaTourette won 63%-37%. During the campaign, however, he acknowledged an affair with his former chief aide, who had become a lobbyist and whom he soon married. His former wife endorsed Cafaro and complained, “Washington corrupts people.” In 2008, retired Appeals Court Judge William O'Neill spent $550,000 on a campaign and had some name recognition in the district, but LaTourette won 58%-39%.