Former Rep. Steve LaTourette, a moderate Republican who surprised the GOP by retiring in 2012 in protest of what he termed the “dumbing down ” of the party, died on Wednesday of pancreatic cancer, according to media reports. He was 62.
LaTourette, an Ohio defense attorney with a professorial beard and an irreverent wit, came to Congress in 1994 amid a wave that gave the Republican Party control of the both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. After his departure, he led an offensive against the tea party and other conservative groups, predicting that their refusal to compromise would destroy the GOP .
“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,” LaTourette said at a 2012 press conference explaining his decision to retire. From the sidelines, his denouncements became more forceful. He famously termed GOP hardliners “the chuckleheads,” and said the job of a lawmaker , “sucks.”
LaTourette is survived by his wife Jennifer and six children including Ohio state Rep. Sarah LaTourette.
LaTourette had planned to file a malpractice suit against the United States government in the fall, alleging that a Congressional physician had failed to inform him or conduct a follow-up assessment when a 2012 MRI revealed he had a lesion on his pancreas, according to court documents. His cancer was diagnosed the following year.