Sweet column: Hastert pondering retirement

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WASHINGTON -- Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will decide in a few weeks if he is going to seek another term, the Sun-Times has learned.

Hastert, 65, is considering retiring, said chief of staff Mike Stokke. "I think that is a possibility," Stokke said.

Stokke said Hastert "believes he needs to let people know by the next recess," referring to a congressional break in August.

Hastert, who was the longest-serving GOP speaker before the Republicans lost the House in 2006, would be tempted to run again if he had work remaining on energy, health care, trade and anti-drug issues, Stokke said. Hastert, who had gall bladder surgery this year and lost 60 pounds, was persuaded to run last time by President Bush. He was first elected to Congress in 1986 after serving in the Illinois House.

An open seat in the GOP leaning district would likely trigger a Republican primary, even if Hastert endorsed a successor. The names most mentioned on the GOP side are state Sen. Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora), state Rep. Tim Schmitz (R-Batavia) and ice cream magnate and investment fund executive Jim Oberweis who has run for a series of offices in the past years. Schmitz is closest to Hastert.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVi (D-Aurora) is eyeing a bid; Geneva attorney Jotham (cq) Stein already filed papers with the Federal Election Commission. The 2006 Democratic nominee John Laesch may also run again.

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Lynn Sweet

<Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 24, 2007 6:35 AM.

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