LAKE COUNTY -- Republicans will have to work quickly to name a ballot replacement for U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette.
The sudden announcement by the nine-term congressman, that he is taking his name off the November ballot and will not be running for re-election, leaves the local GOP with looming deadlines.
"We have our work cut out for us," says Lake County Republican Chairman Dale Fellows.
He tells WKYC that the chairmen and secretaries of the seven county GOP organizations which make up the 14th Congressional District, cannot even meet until LaTourette officially gives his notice to Congress.
"That will be on the 8th of August," Fellows explained, "and we have to have a name on the ballot to replace him by 4 p.m. on Monday the 13th."
That leaves local GOP leaders with a window of only a few days to decide on a ballot replacement. A number of experienced and active Republicans have indicated their interest in being the candidate. Other names of potential candidates have also surfaced.
"We have a lot of talent, a lot of good people," Fellows said. "Now, Steve LaTourette is going to be impossible to replace, but we do have a lot of great folks out there who could potentially move right in and do this job."
Former state representitve Matt Dolan has told WKYC he is flying back early from the Olympics in London to put his hat into the ring. Dolan is due back in Cleveland on Friday, and would be considered a strong possibility.
Another is current Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce, who has held that office since 1988. He and LaTourette are close and Joyce is a well-known name throughout the entire district.
"I expect we will have many names to consider by the time we meet," Fellows said. "And if we select someone who is already on the ballot for another office in November, we would have to find that replacement as well."
The time and place for the meeting of the 14 county chairmen and secretaries have not yet been established. How they will go about selecting LaTourette's ballot replacement is not known at this time either, according to Lake County chairman Fellows.
"We have one shot to make it right and we're going to make sure we do our due diligence to make sure the person who's there is going to have the longevity that Steve, Dennis Eckart, and Bill Stanton before him, had," Fellows stated.
LaTourette was elected in 1994. Eckart served from 1984-1994, and Stanton from 1964 to 1984.
"That's what we're looking for, somebody who's going to be able to represent Northeast Ohio in a great way for a long period of time."
Whoever replaces LaTourette on the November ballot will face Democrat Dale Blanchard of Solon. He won his party's primary, and has run unsuccessfully for political office more than 10 times. He has indicated he will stay in the race, and not give up his ballot position to a more well-known Democrat.
Also on the ballot are Elaine Mastromatteo of the Green Party, and David Macko, the Libertarian Party candidate. Eric Donald Robinson is running as an independent.