Tuesday, August 14, 2007

IL-14: Hastert Retiring

The longest Republican House Speaker in history; Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) became the second Republican congressman from the Land of Lincoln, after Ray LaHood, to announce he will not run for reelection next year.

Hastert is expected to make the announcement on Thursday. He was widely expected to retire after this term after he decided to not to run for Minority Leader after his party's defeat at the polls last November.

Hastert's district, which covers a wide swath of Northern Illinois from the outer Chicago suburbs of Elgin and Aurora all the way to the outskirts of Moline leans Republican, but not out of reach for a strong Democrat. Like LaHood's similarly Republican district, Democrats are expected to make a strong run for his district, especially with the possibility of a Illinoisan Democrat on top of the ticket.

So far only Republican Jim Oberweis, a strong anti-illegal immigrant advocate, has filed to run for the seat. Oberweis twice ran for the US Senate in Illinois in 2002 and 2004, but lost both times in the primary. He also made an unsuccessful run for Governor in 2006.

Other possible candidates may include Republicans State Senator Chris Lauzen and Kane County Recorder Sandy Wegman as well as Democrats State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia, scientist Bill Foster, and lawyer Jothan Stein. 2006 nominee John Laesch, who held Hastert to 60% of the vote, the lowest since his initial election in 1986 (when he won 52%), is also interested in taking another run at the district.

The two open Illinois seats, as well as the seats of freshman Republican Pete Roskam in the sixth district, Mark Kirk in the Democratic-leaning tenth district and Jerry Weller in the nationally competitive eleventh district may mean Illinois could drown in a Democratic wave next year...no wonder Illinois Democrats are enthusiastically endorsing Obama.

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