U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (OH-14) announced today that he will not be running for re-election this November and this ninth term in Washington will be his last.
Moreover, he said he is tired of the fighting between the political parties in Washington.
"For a long time now, words like compromise have been considered to be dirty words," he said during a news conference today in Painesville. "And there are people on the right and the left who think that if you compromise, you're a coward. You're a facilitator. You're an appeaser.
"I always believed that the art of being a legislator is finding common ground."
Latourette added that he thinks the word "hate" has no place in politics.
"I've had the chance to work under three presidents. One of the things that drives me nuts is when someone says, 'I hate President Bush.' You know what? You don't know President Bush. Or 'I hate President Obama.' You know what? You don't know President Obama.
"You can not like a policy or a position they've taken. But I can tell you, because I've had the chance to sit with them, that all three of them believed, when they woke up in the morning, that they were making decisions that they thought were best for the country.
"And you can think they're going in a direction you don't appreciate. But hate doesn't belong in the vocabulary of politics. And, yet, there it is."
The world of politics and brinksmanship
LaTourette, 58, plans to withdraw from the ballot on Aug. 8. Consequently, his replacement on the ballot will be selected by the Republican Party chairmen and central-committee secretaries from each of the seven counties LaTourette represents.
"In reaching this conclusion, I realize I'm leaving my party in a somewhat precarious position and I apologize for that," LaTourette said.
LaTourette also clarified some of the rumors surrounding his decision to retire.
He said his choice was not because he was sick or upset about committee assignments in the House or that he was feuding with House Speaker John Boehner. He specifically addressed one rumor that claimed he wanted to be head of Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure by noting, even if had been offered that position, he still would have retired.
Instead, LaTourette said he was retiring because tired of the brinksmanship and contentiousness in national politics.
"I will tell you that Washington and public life is not the same as it was when I started a quarter century ago," he said.
"The world of politics, brinksmanship and the desire to find a way to fight your people instead of to work to solve the problems at the city level, county level, state level or national level is all new to me."
'I'm not interested in giving them my wallet or my voting card'
LaTourette cited several examples of what he saw as a failure of the two parties to work together, including the inability of Congress to pass the highway infrastructure bill, farm bill or to decrease the national deficit.
"We owe $15 trillion and, over the next number of years, it's going to go to $22 trillion. We are a hiccup away from being Europe. We are a hiccup away from being Greece," LaTourette said of the debt crisis.
LaTourette added that a willingness to work across the aisle is no longer considered "good politics" in Washington. He responded that now was not just the time for good politics, but "good policy."
"I have reached the conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground," he said.
LaTourette also said that to rise in parties nationally, one had to toe the party's line.
"The expectation is if you want to go up in the ranks of either party, you got to give them your wallet and voting card," LaTourette said.
"The overwhelming criticism of me over the years is sometimes I vote funny, according to my part. And I'm not interested in giving them my wallet or my voting card."
As per his long-term plans, LaTourette said he intended to find work after his term ends in January. However, he did not specify what, if anything, he had in mind.
For now, LaTourette is still on the ballot for this November. Whoever is selected to replace him on the ballot will face a field that includes Democratic candidate Dale Virgil Blanchard, Elaine Mastromatteo of the Green Party and Libertarian David Macko.
LaTourette said he does not intend to have any part in selecting his ballot replacement.
"By making this announcement, it's my belief that I forfeit the right to tell (the Republican Party chairmen and central-committee secretaries) what to do," he said.
LaTourette's district includes the entirety of Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties and parts of Cuyahoga, Portage, Summit and Trumbull counties.
LaTourette was the Lake County prosecutor before he defeated Democratic Rep. Eric Fingerhut in 1994 to join the U.S. House of Representatives. He has been reelected eight times since then. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee