Hastert says he wont run for minority leader
Speaker tells colleagues he wont seek House post
after Democrat victory
NBC News and news services
Updated: 1:35 p.m. MT Nov 8, 2006
WASHINGTON - Triggering a post-election shake-up,
House Speaker Dennis Hastert announced Wednesday he
will not run for leader of House Republicans when
Democrats take control in January.
Obviously I wish my party had won, Hastert said in a
statement, adding that he intends to return to the
full-time task of representing his Illinois
Hastert first conveyed word of his plans in a
conference call with fellow GOP leaders a day after
Republicans lost control of the House in midterm
His decision to step down cleared the way for a likely
succession battle. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio,
currently the majority leader, is expected to run for
minority leader, and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana
announced during the day he also will seek the post.
Joe Barton of Texas has signaled he might join the
Hastert was elected to an 11th term in Illinois on
Tuesday night and had said he would seek a new term as
speaker if the GOP held the House. But Democratic wins
nationwide gave them control of the House and put
California Democrat Nancy Pelosi in line to be the
Hastert: Tough out there
Its been kind of tough out there, Hastert said
earlier during a brief appearance at his election
In his statement, Hastert said Democrats have a huge
responsibility to help govern this nation at a time
of war against terrorism.
We are at war, and what is at stake goes to the very
nature of our democracy, he said. We can and should
have a vigorous debate about how we conduct the war.
But that debate must rest on a mutual understanding
that our enemy is ruthless and seeks to destroy our
way of life, and that we must ultimately be victorious
in this battle.
There is no recent precedent for Hastert's situation.
The last time control of the House changed hands, in
1994, the speaker at the time, Democratic Rep. Tom
Foley of Washington, lost his House seat.
Hastert, 64, became speaker nearly eight years ago,
stepping up after Newt Gingrich resigned and his heir
apparent, Bob Livingston, quit after saying he had had
an extramarital affair.
A former high school wrestling coach, Hastert was the
perfect tonic for Republicans at the time, studiously
avoiding the controversy that Gingrich often seemed to
Hastert has been speaker since 1999, the
longest-serving Republican speaker ever. In addition
to the battering that his party took Tuesday, losing
control of the House of Representatives after 12
years, his reputation had been scarred by the Rep.
Mark Foley sex scandal.
The bipartisan House ethics committee is still probing
whether Hastert, his staff, or other members of the
Republican leadership knew about Foleys inappropriate
contact with teenage male pages. Hastert has denied
any wrongdoing. Foley later resigned from the House.
Bush urged him to run again Hastert worked closely
with President Bush, and originally had indicated he
would retire rather than seek re-election this fall.
The president prevailed on him to run again though,
and Hastert agreed.
Hasterts tenacious but plodding approach to his
tenure received mixed reviews. He largely shunned the
talk-show circuit. Critics said he failed to line up
GOP support for key legislation, including a 1999
resolution supporting U.S. intervention in Kosovo and
Although conservative, Hastert became known more as a
legislative tactician with a pragmatic,
consensus-building style than as an ideological
In an effort to keep his fragile, fractured Republican
majority and himself in charge of the House,
Hastert maintained a dizzying fundraising pace as
speaker that rivaled the legendary cash-collecting
abilities of his predecessor, Gingrich.
He took steps to decentralize the House, allowing
policy to bubble up through the committees rather than
being dictated down from the top.
Hastert won 10 terms by concentrating on issues
important to his north central Illinois district, a
mix of far-out Chicago suburbs, farmland and high-tech