The man who held the post of speaker longer than any Republican in history is now but one of a multitude, serving out his last days in the Congress he helped to lose. Denny Hastert’s refusal to retire makes him a historical oddity, since House speakers typically end their reigns by either resigning or dying.
New York Times:
Defying expectations that he would immediately retire if the Republicans lost their majority, Mr. Hastert is preparing to remain in the House for at least the early months of the 110th Congress while he helps orchestrate a line of succession at home in Illinois and seeks to shape a political ending beyond his party’s defeat.
“It is not an ideal situation, but the speaker is a grounded person and is focused on serving another term in Congress,” said Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for Mr. Hastert.
Others close to Mr. Hastert say the speaker, who has said little publicly since the Republicans lost the House, is dejected and embarrassed by the rebuke. The defeat had a strong personal element, because Mr. Hastert’s role in the Mark Foley scandal became a Democratic talking point and severely limited his effectiveness as an advocate for House candidates.
Mr. Hastert is awaiting a report from the House ethics committee on whether he or his staff should have taken earlier and more aggressive steps to deal with warnings about improper conduct by Mr. Foley, the former Republican representative from Florida, toward Congressional pages.
The speaker’s supporters say Mr. Hastert, whom President Bush urged to seek another term when he might have preferred to retire, would like to end on a brighter note than losing the majority that he has led since 1998.