Earlier today, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), who was formerly the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House, officially announced that he will not seek re-election to Congress in 2008.
In an interview with the Daily Herald yesterday, Hastert also hinted that he may leave his seat before his term expires. “I haven’t ruled out anything,” he said.
While news of Hastert’s departure only broke this week, speculation that he would leave office began soon after the 2006 mid-term elections when Hastert was ousted from his leadership position. But in January 2007, Hastert denied those rumors, telling CBS’ Chicago affiliate “I’m going to stay”:
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.
Now that he’s in the minority as a rank-and-file congressman, Hastert — dubbed a “reliable ally” of Jack Abramoff’s — has been forced to change his lifestyle. Stricter ethics rules make many of the perks of his job harder to come by, such as the ability to turn a profit using federal earmarks. The former wrestling coach, seemingly not content to live by new rules, is throwing in the towel and heading home.