WASHINGTON--Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will announce on Friday whether he will run again. My bet is he will not. Last May, Hastert chief of staff Mike Stokke told me a Hastert retirement "is a possibility." Hastert watchers tell me he will not run again. One glitch that could make Hastert stay for awhile: there is no obvious favorite son or daughter for Hastert to tap to replace him. He may not, at this point, care to engineer his successor. In any case, Democrats will put some money in to try to make it a fight, no matter who the GOP candidate. There was talk of Stokke going for the seat, but Stokke does not live in the district and he told me a few weeks ago he has no interest in running from a district he does not live in--though it is legal in Illinois.
Click below for my May column on Hastert's possible retirement....
This is what I wrote in May....
Sweet column: Hastert pondering retirement
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.