News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Lehmans

Metro RTA

Don Drumm Studios


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Government and Politics


Northeast Ohio Congressman LaTourette reflects on congressional career
Doubts Washington gridlock will end soon
by WKSU's KEVIN NIEDERMIER


Reporter
Kevin Niedermier
 
Congressman Steve LaTourette announcing in July that he's not seeking reelection because of Washington's political gridlock.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
Lake County Congressman Steve LaTourette surprised a lot of people earlier this year by announcing he would not run for re-election. After 18-years in Washington the moderate Republican lawmaker said he became fed-up with the partisan gridlock. He’s now finishing out his last week on Capitol Hill. Earlier this month, WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier talked with LaTourette about his time in Congress, and about his future.
Click to listen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (7:14)


 

Since first being elected in 1994, Congressman Steve LaTourette says the climate in Washington has gotten progressively worse. It’s no longer what he calls the vibrant two-party system where honest disagreements were worked out across the aisle.

“Now, people aren’t willing to find common ground on issues they disagree on as often as they used to if ever. And now it’s also become public sport to not only have the opposing party be an opponent, but we now have people in our own party shooting at us saying we’re not good enough Democrats or Republicans.  That’s why you’re seeing so many primaries for both parties. You’re sort of put to this litmus test, and I’ve got to tell you it wears you out.”

Being a moderate has never been easy

The moderate Republican has become known as a compromiser, something LaTourette says has never been easy considering the ideological breakdown of the G.O.P.’s 240 plus members of congress.

“One hundred and sixty of them belong to the Republican Study Committee which is the most conservative. That leaves 80, and of that 80 about 50 are in the group I belong to, the Republican Mainstream Partnership. So, I’m not meeting with a couple of people in a phone booth, but if you look at the numbers it’s a tough sled on some issues.  That’s not what caused me to leave, that’s always been a tough sled. The job is “representative” so I have to do what I think the people in my district want, not what someone in Texas wants. So that’s not the tough part, it’s this unwillingness of people to compromise on problems that need to be solved. For a newly elected member of Congress, I’d say you have to be true to yourself and your district, because at the end of the day if you don’t represent the district you won’t be reelected. It’s easy to get sucked in because advancement here is based partly on being a good, loyal solider and whether or not you’ve towed the party line, so there’s a lot of pressure to do that if you want a committee chairmanship or to be a ranking member. But if you can’t look in the mirror at the end of the day and say you didn’t do what your heart, head and constituents told you to do, then you shouldn’t be here.”

LaTourette went from prosecuting cult killers to congress

LaTourette is disappointed that the two sides haven’t been able to strike a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, even though he says he detected growing sentiment that compromise was needed to get fix the situation.The congressman serves on the powerful Appropriations committee, and on the Transportation, Interior, Environment and Housing and Urban Development subcommittees. He rode into congress in the 1994 Republican landslide started by Newt Gingrich. Before that he was Lake County’s prosecutor. There, he gained local and national attention convicting self-proclaimed prophet Jeffery Lundgren and his followers in the Kirtland cult killings. LaTourette believes that grisly trial helped start his congressional career.

“When Newt Gingrich in 1994 was casting around after putting together his Contract With America, and put the House in play by putting Republicans into the majority, I’m sure the publicity helped. A lot of people in Greater Cleveland got to know me through the handling of that case, and I don’t want to say I owe it to that, but I did gain some name recognition from it that might have gotten me through that first election. But since then you’re only as good as the last thing you’re done, and I’ve always tried to do my best.”

Going to congress was LaTourette’s first legislative experience. Before that, he says national politics were hardly on his radar, so, he went to Washington without any strong expectations of what the job would be like.

Came to Washington without strong expectations of what to expect

“I can admit it now, but I never even watched C-Span before coming to Washington. So it wasn’t something that was all consuming, so I suspect in that I’m more like most Americans than most members of Congress in that I was more worried about paying the bills and feeding the family. And I have to tell you there have been a lot of wonderful things that have happened to me here in 18 years, but at the end of the day it’s become a disappointing experience. I’ve put in place pieces of legislation that have been signed by Presidents Clinton and Bush, nothing yet with President Obama, but there’s still a little time. Those are laws dealing with credit unions and water quality and other things that I’m very proud of. I think as I leave my reputation, at least what I hear people saying, is that I’ve tried to work together with people regardless of party. And the staff that I’ve had has done a wonderful job helping thousands of constituents with passport, social security immigration and other problems, and I’m very proud of their work. After I leave Congress, my unpaid job is heading the Republican Mainstreet Partnership, which will help support members who want to reach compromises with Democrats on issue like the fiscal cliff.”

A lawyer by trade, LaTourette says he will likely get back into the legal field to earn a living. His wife and kids live in D.C., and he plans to stay there after leaving congress.   

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Bringing back ballet in Cleveland
I do think Ballet in Cleveland is doing good things, but the fact that director says "When we have flourishing companies like the New York City Ballet and the A...

Report confirms some Vietnam veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange
was in nam 1969 exposed va stated lost medical records was in lawsuit from 197? till settled 0 $ 2010 ? said all nam vets will get back disability till 198? jus...

Mentorship grant program redefines "faith-based" provision
Can't anyone have values, beliefs, and morals anymore? How is it anymore unconstitutional for a school partner with a "faith-based" organization than any other ...

Exploradio: The challenge of finding a healthy balance with technology
Thank you, Jeff, for another well done Exploradio. I always learn something interesting about what is happening in NE Ohio.

Northeast Ohio's transgender community rallies around restroom issue
A good first step would be for Cleveland to require restaurants to have a public restroom. Cleveland is the only city I've ever been in where restaurants somet...

Vapor shops say tobacco tax hikes could hit them hard
Maybe you should be DOING a study, since every time you've tried to villianize them all that's happened was the opposite. I'm not a fan of alcohol that's flavor...

New law gives access to birth records to Ohio adoptees
Can siblings also look for their missing brother or sister? And how do we go about it?

Ida McKinley's tiara comes home, with the help of "Pawn Stars"
I donated to the fund to keep the tiara at the museum where I believe it belongs. I took my 16 year old granddaughter to the showing I dont think it will be som...

ResponsibleOhio names 10 counties as possible pot-growing locations
Ohio has always made its money off our prison system ,and ohio is so hard nose on us the public that there voicing concerns saying there on our behalf bullcrap ...

Akron's plan to create its own construction company is on hold -- for now
They talk about displacing workers... This is all about the teamster union. The city is allowing RW Sidley out of Canton to haul concrete for one of the CSO pr...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University