NASA’s Glenn Research Center is already losing a strong supporter in Congress with the departure of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who lost the Democratic primary for his redrawn district against another incumbent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Now it appears the center will lose another advocate: according to multiple reports, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Rep. Steven Latourette (R-OH) is expected to announce today that he will retire at the end of his term, ending what was expected to be a relatively easy reelection bid. His decision to retire “is related to displeasure with his role in Congress,” the Plain Dealer reported.
LaTourette, while not active in general on space issues, has spoken out when it has affected NASA’s Glenn Research Center, near his district, or elsewhere in the state. He opposed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, along with a large number of other members of the Ohio delegation, concerned that it could lead to job cuts at Glenn. He sought a GAO review of NASA’s shuttle site selection process in 2011 after the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton failed in its bid to secure a shuttle orbiter. He also criticized some of his Alabama colleagues in 2010, including Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), for allegedly diverting funding from Glenn to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “The biggest pigs were the guys down in Alabama,” he said at the time. “They were always trying to take stuff away from NASA Glenn, and it was because of Sen. [Richard] Shelby.”