Hastert calls it quits

Rep. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, who served as speaker of the House longer than any other Republican in history, intends to retire next year at the end of his current term, party officials said Tuesday.

A formal announcement was planned for Friday.

Hastert’s planned retirement is likely to set off a lively scramble between the two political parties for a House seat that he has held easily since 1986.

Hastert’s decision has been expected since the GOP lost control of the House last November, costing him his powerful post. He had been speaker, second in the line of presidential succession behind the vice president, for eight years.

The officials who discussed his plans did so on condition of anonymity because there had been no public announcement.

Hastert’s decision to remain in the House after his speakership was unusual.

His immediate predecessor, Republican Newt Gingrich of Georgia, was dogged by scandal when he stepped down as speaker after two terms, then resigned from Congress a short while later.

Before Gingrich, Democratic Rep. Tom Foley of Washington was defeated for re-election in 1994. Foley’s predecessor, Democratic Rep. Jim Wright of Texas, resigned under an ethics cloud in 1989.

Hastert, 65, declined to run for minority leader after his party’s defeat in the 2006 elections, taking on a role as elder statesman among Republicans.

He has been a strong supporter of the war in Iraq.

As speaker during President Bush’s first six years in office, he labored successfully to pass the administration’s tax cuts as well as landmark Medicare legislation that provides a prescription drug benefit.

Democrats said Hastert’s decision will make it more difficult for Republicans to hold his congressional seat.

“Any Republican running will have to answer for their party’s failure to be nothing more than a rubber stamp for George Bush’s endless war in Iraq and his irresponsible fiscal policies,” said Doug Thornell, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


  1. Wayne K Dolik

    More rats to abandon the sinking ship. This couldn’t happen to a better bunch of fools. Not one single Law needed changing post 911. America is the strongest Country in the World. We could have stayed free and kept our checks and balances.

    I hope this bunch of misguided fools get everything they deserve. Mr. Hastert you and your like have sacrificed our freedom and sent the Republican Party into 40 years of Hillary Clinton wilderness! I pray for our children’s children.

  2. VietnamVet

    RE: Wayne K Dolik on August 15, 2007 – 11:56am

    Right on Wayne! It is people of his ilk that have allowed Bush to do as he has pleased for almost eight years now. The American people, Republican or Democratic, do not deserve to be shackled with people of his character in the government…in ANY position! Mr. Hastert, don’t let the door hit you in the ass when leaving!

  3. bryan mcclellan

    The real sad truth is shit begets shit,look what we have now as a speaker. More run of the mill butcher shop baloney,only the casing is filled with turds instead of ethics.

  4. jennbeez

    Oh please…Thornell speaks as if the democrats hands were clean. Republicans aren’t the only ones who will have to answer for being “nothing more than a rubber stamp for George Bush’s endless war in Iraq and his irresponsible fiscal policies.” Hillary, Edwards, Kerry are the names that come to mind for not having the sack to deny the sociopath in the white house war powers.