Hastert Will Stick Out His Term

In the period following then-Speaker Denny Hastert's rejection of suggestions that he resign from Congress through the weeks following his party's disastrous showing in the November midterms, many believed that Hastert would stick around in the Congressional minority for only so long before eventually relenting and leaving Capitol Hill. Not so, according to Mike Flannery of CBS 2 in Chicago.

In an exclusive interview with CBS 2 Dennis Hastert said he can deal with the demotion, and that, contrary to many rumors, he will not quit Congress.

"I just think that was wishful thinking on the part of some people," Hastert said. "Some even had me being an ambassador someplace, which had no founding at all."

"I've made a commitment to run, and I'm going to stay here to get going here, and I can do some things on energy -- I think energy is certainly important for Illinois," he said.

There is one thing, and one thing alone to read into this decision: Hastert has seen polling from his district and it shows that either his party would have difficulty holding on to his seat should he resign in the middle of his term or that, alternatively, his party has no chance of holding his seat in this situation.

In November Hastert was able to defeat his Democratic challenger, newcomer John Laesch, by a relatively healthy margin -- but he had to spend to do it. According to FEC filings compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine, Hastert outspent Laesch by a $5.1 million to $300,000 spread, a feat that would no doubt be difficult for any other Republican in the district, even one with the capacity to self-fund, to achieve. Given this, combined with fact that Hastert's district (IL-14) has a Republican lean of less than five points and that just about anything can happen in a special election, a decision by the former Speaker to resign in the coming months would cause real problems for his party.

So this move comes from a real position of weakness and it is indicative of just how worried Republicans are about the current political environment.

Tags: 110th congress, Denny Hastert, House 2008, IL-14, Republicans (all tags)



Re: Hastert Will Stick Out His Term

I don't know, I'm not so sure there is such a big ulterior motive to Hastert's decision. To me it seems perfectly plausible that he could work comfortable in the nice office he's been given and serve out the term that he's been elected to. I'm more inclined to take him at his word on his decision to stay.

Plus I'm not sure that his district is really prime for a switch to blue anyway...Hastert still took 60% of the vote, even after he was hit with the Mark Foley scandal. It just doesn't seem necessary to make a political calculation with his seat. Ten years from now there will definitely be a Democrat in that seat, but not yet.

by mihan 2007-01-05 12:17PM | 0 recs
Political calculation.

   I agree that Hastert probably just wanted to hang around DC for a little while longer.  Why not?  The pay is good, and he gets to hang around with his buddies.  Still, Hastert took 60% of the vote as the Speaker of the House.  If he doesn't retire in 2008, he'll have a difficult campaign as a loser from the minority party.  The Republicans probably saved several seats playing up their "seniority" and their ability to bring home the bacon because of their powerful positions in the House leadership (Deborah Pryce).  In 2008 we will have that advantage.

by cilerder86 2007-01-05 12:23PM | 0 recs
Laesch had no dough!

That was the problem, he was well liked, and pretty good at the retail politicing...

he didn't have the $$$ though.


by neutron 2007-01-05 12:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Political calculation.

He's definitely not going to be able to run from the position of strength that he had, no doubt, and it will be a lot harder to sell himself next time around against what will then be a better-financed Laesch if he decides to try again. But a swing that large seems a bit tough to me, honestly...I doubt he stays around to run again in 2008, but he's more likely to win in a squeaker than to get beaten in a squeaker. Kind of like Deborah Price. This seat will flip, and I hope it does in 2008, but to me at least it doesn't look that way.

by mihan 2007-01-05 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Political calculation.
I also agree that the assertion that Hastert is sticking around because he's afraid the party will lose his seat is over-reading.
He has a cushy job and he's probably going to enjoy it, but he said he's serving out his term- he didnt say he wanted to run for re-election, did he?
by AC4508 2007-01-05 09:50PM | 0 recs
Has-been Has-tert

   It practically writes itself.

by cilerder86 2007-01-05 12:26PM | 0 recs
Maybe Hastert just likes being a Congressman.


by EricJaffa 2007-01-05 12:17PM | 0 recs
I tell you what...

If pragmatism hadn't won the day, and if John had become a "netroots supported" candidate (meaning that he was on the big list that was decided by all the top down blogs, not that he received netroots support), we would have knocked Hastert out.

John couldn't even afford to run local television... but he was a very good candidate, and one of us...

I consider this race one of our big failures of last cycle.


by neutron 2007-01-05 12:25PM | 0 recs

You're looking at an additional $40-50K, tops.  That's not the difference between winning and losing.

Laesch just wasn't a good candidate.  And a candidate who can't afford local tv on his own just isn't worth supporting.

by Adam B 2007-01-05 03:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Huh?

Actually, Laesch did buy cable TV time.  If I remember correctly, he ran three different commercials.

Also, keep in mind that the district is covered by three different tv markets--Chicago, Rockford, and the Quad Cities--making broadcast buys an expensive proposition for any candidate.

by n0madic 2007-06-06 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Hastert Will Stick Out His Term

Ew, stick out his what?

by Kagro X 2007-01-05 06:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Hastert Will Stick Out His Term
If you look at a full picture of Hassert yesterday in the balcony you will see with the the dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks congressman, Manzullo, from the district north of Hasserts.  The beige corodor in  Illinois.  Manzullo is my representative and I am not proud of it.  ick.
Around here, an area that was once blue but, turned bright tomato red sometime around a decade ago, the people will vote for people like Hassert and Manzullo no matter what.  Most people don't know who thier representative is let alone the party but, vote for the person with the r by the name.
I hate living here.
by vwcat 2007-01-05 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Hastert Will Stick Out His Term

Hastert will be appointed as the ambassador to Denny's Restaurants before he makes a difference in the world again.

F**k him, and the triple-burger he ate-in on!


by iamwil 2007-01-06 01:53PM | 0 recs


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