WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio - Republican leaders in the 14th Congressional District selected Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce on Friday to replace nine-term U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Joyce landed the nomination in a meeting of GOP chairs and central committee secretaries from the seven counties that make up the district, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Portage, Summit and Trumbull.
Joyce, who has served as prosecutor in a reliably Republican county since 1988, has directed the high-profile case against a 17-year-old charged with killing three students in a shooting rampage in February at Chardon High School.
Joyce will likely be favored over Democrat Dale Virgil Blanchard, who has run for Congress 10 times.
Joyce said in a phone interview that he was ready to take a conservative but practical message of belt-tightening to Congress.
"There's going to have to be some shared sacrifice here to make this system work," he said.
"The economy's out of whack. Everybody in this community I know has tightened their belts to make it work for their family: I think Washington needs to do the same."
Dale Fellows, who hosted the Willoughby Hills meeting as chairman of the GOP in Lake County in the heart of the district, predicted Joyce would keep the seat in Republican hands.
Blanchard, an accountant from suburban Solon, welcomed Joyce to the race and said he would campaign on a platform opposing tax cuts for the wealthy and backing lower taxes for low- and middle-income wage earners.
Blanchard said he has no intention of stepping aside for a better-known candidate. "I'm in the race. I'm in it to win it," he said in a phone interview.
LaTourette, who was elected to Congress in 1994, announced last month he wouldn't seek re-election. The Republican cited frustration over political gridlock in Washington for his decision.
LaTourette, a former Lake County prosecutor who collaborated with Joyce on crime issues, was elected during the Republican wave in 1994, when the party seized control of the House after decades in the minority. He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
He was re-elected in 2010 with 65 percent of the vote. The 14th Congressional District narrowly went for Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
LaTourette joins more than three dozen House members who have decided to retire.
The district stretches northeast along the Interstate 90 corridor from Cleveland's eastern suburbs to the Ohio state line near Erie, Pa., and south toward Akron and Warren.