Hastert Will Stick Out His Term
by Jonathan Singer, Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 12:08:28 PM EST
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.