Former U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette has been out of Congress for more than a year, but his profile hasn’t diminished.
In fact, in his new role as a Washington D.C.-lobbyist and champion tea party basher, LaTourette may be getting more notoriety than when he held office. He recently appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Larry King and was featured in the New York Times, which called him “one of the top generals in the establishment Republicans’ war against the tea party.”
LaTourette said in a recent interview that he welcomes the attention, not for his ego but for the attention it brings to Main Street Partnership, the organization he’s heading that supports moderate Republicans running for Congress.
“We encourage the opportunity to appear in all forms of media to sort of spread the word — to raise the profile of Main Street and let the center-right Republicans know there is a place in the party for them,” LaTourette said. “Some have their back.”
LaTourette’s recent celebrity and outspokenness promise to make two upcoming appearances he will have in Summit County rousing. He will speak at 7 p.m. Monday at the Hudson Library & Historical Society and April 22 at the Akron Press Club.
Ellen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Hudson library, expects the 200-seat meeting room to be filled for the appearance by LaTourette, whom the library unsuccessfully tried to nab as a speaker when he was in Congress. She thinks people will enjoy the event, especially because LaTourette will answer questions from the audience.
The Beacon Journal posed its own questions to LaTourette, who is splitting his time between D.C. and Bainbridge Township, in advance of his local appearances, asking him about his aversion of the tea party and what life is like as a lawmaker-turned-lobbyist.
Q: You were prohibited from being a lobbyist for a year after leaving Congress. Are you now registered to lobby?
A: The short answer is yes. You don’t have to register to lobby until you actually go lobby. At this moment, the only place you will find me registered is the Railway Supply Institute.
Q: What’s it like to be on that side of government?
A: I think an advantage I have is having sat in those meetings and listened to people bore me to tears. I do think I’m able to design a presentation that gets the point across and gets me out of there before I am not welcome anymore.
Q: Some of your opponents have accused you, especially because of your work with Main Street Partnership, of doing lobbying work before the one-year period was up. How do you respond to this?
A: It’s baloney. I knew the rules.
Q: How would you describe the goal of Main Street Partnership?
A: It’s to defend center-right Republicans currently serving in the U.S. Congress from attacks by crazy people.
Q: How is the group doing toward its goal of raising $8 million to support moderate candidates?
A: About half way there ... We have sufficient funds to do what we need to do in the primary.
Q: You told Larry King the tea party needs to stop electing Manchurian candidates and the L.A. Times that it no longer holds the sway it once did. What are your thoughts on the tea party and its role going forward?
A: In 2010, the tea party was an important force. It brought new voters into the fold and, in the mid-term election, it had a lot to do with the restoration of the Republican majority. What happened is what has happened with a lot of successful movements. It was taken over by people using folks and their money for purposes of their own.
Q: Your daughter is running for state Rep. Matt Lynch’s Ohio House seat while Lynch, who has tea party support, is challenging U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce for your former 14th District Congressional District seat. What do you think of this?
A: I’m befuddled by the whole thing. I think somebody must have bumped into Matt Lynch and knocked his foil hat askew ... I’m all in for Dave Joyce. I will do everything I can to make sure he’s elected. This contest will be on a local level what we are trying to do on a national level.
Q: Do you think politics will end up getting more or less contentious in the near future?
A: It’s going to be more contentious. That is what propelled me to exit. People feel they need to fight about everything... It will only get better when the public demands it — and we’re not there yet.
Q: Would you ever consider running for office again?
A: Oh, God no.
Q: What do you plan to discuss during your talks in Hudson and Akron?
A: What I talk about most of the time is what we’ve been talking about — the dysfunctional government and how to get over the facture in my party and the strife between the two parties to do something good. I’m really looking forward to it.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmith and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith. Read the Beacon Journal’s political blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/ohio-politics.