Dennis Hastert: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dennis Hastert

In office
January 6, 1999 – January 3, 2007
President Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Majority Leader Dick Armey
Tom DeLay
Roy Blunt (Interim)
John Boehner
Preceded by Newt Gingrich
Succeeded by Nancy Pelosi

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 14th district
In office
January 6, 1987 – November 26, 2007
Preceded by John E. Grotberg
Succeeded by Bill Foster

Born January 2, 1942 (1942-01-02) (age 68)
Aurora, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jean Kahl
Residence Plano, Illinois
Alma mater Wheaton College
Northern Illinois University
Occupation High School Teacher
Religion Methodist

John Dennis "Denny" Hastert (pronounced /ˈhæstərt/; born January 2, 1942) is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1987 to 2007, representing Illinois's 14th congressional district, and served as Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007.

Originally elevated to the Speakership on January 6, 1999, he surpassed Joseph Gurney Cannon as the longest-serving Republican Speaker in history on June 1, 2006. Hastert was reelected to an eleventh term in Congress in the 2006 general election, defeating former United States Navy intelligence analyst John Laesch. However, the Republican Party lost its majority in the House and Hastert did not seek a leadership position in the 110th Congress.[1] He resigned his seat mid-session on November 26, 2007.[2][3][4] Hastert endorsed former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination before he withdrew from the race.


Early life

Hastert was born in Aurora, Illinois and grew up in Oswego, Illinois. He was the eldest of three sons of Naomi and Jack Hastert. As a young man he worked in the Plainfield, Illinois, family restaurant "The Clock Tower" as a fry cook.[5] He briefly attended North Central College but graduated from Wheaton College, Illinois, in 1964, and earned a master's degree in education from Northern Illinois University, in 1967. Although Hastert was high school "football and wrestling star" and a wrestler at Wheaton College in the 1960s, he was later injured, and as a result never served in Vietnam.[1] After a stint teaching English in Osaka, Japan, in the early 1970s,[6] he moved to Yorkville, 55 miles (89 km) west of Chicago, and took a job as a government and history teacher at Yorkville High School. He also coached wrestling and football, leading the wrestling team to a state title in 1976. His family owns the locally famous fried chicken restaurant, "The White Fence Farm," in Bolingbrook, Ill.

Illinois House of Representatives

In 1980, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives and served three terms, becoming the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

Early congressional career

In 1986, John Grotberg, the Congressman from Illinois's 14th congressional district, was comatose in January 1986 due to a stroke suffered during cancer treatment. Grotberg was kept on life support through the general election. As this was a politically unique situation, the twelve county chairmen would seek legal guidance on the correct procedure to choose his successor. Future Lutheran Pastor Mark Powell then at the age of 26 was WLBK/DeKalb's Program Director when he waged a protest write-in campaign going on the radio stations of the district telling of the GOP leadership's plan to "hand pick" a congressional successor without the people's vote. Hastert did not live in the congressional district and had to move into it. Hastert was nominated by the Republican congressional district convention held at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, Illinois. This convention was attended by all precinct committee members from within the represented district. Each was assigned a weighted vote based upon the total number of Republican ballots cast in their respective precincts in the most recent primary election. Dr. Richard Verbic, a dentist and Mayor from Elgin, Illinois, was the only other candidate to be nominated that day. Mayor Verbic ran in the 1984 GOP primary which was won by then State Senator Grotberg. After long hours of voting, it became clear the fix was in and that the majority of votes were going toward Hastert. A motion was made to suspend voting by whom it is not known publicly at this time and to nominate State Rep. Hastert who had to move into the district prior to the convention by acclamation. The convention acclaimed the Hand Picked Successor to US Rep. Grotberg, Denny Hastert its nominee. Many Republicans were terribly upset at the fact that they were not going to get a chance to choose their nominee for Congress, although they had technically all given input to their local committee members. What bothered thousands of GOP rank and file members was the way Grotberg's condition was distorted and publicized and the way Mayor Verbic was treated prior and at the convention. Initially told it would be an open and fair district convention, calls were made prior to the convention disparaging to Mayor Verbic's age. Because of these reasons, Hastert would face his closest race for Congress. Hastert faced Democrat Mary Lou Kearns, the coroner of Kane County. Hastert ran a typical GOP campaign, and it was only the district's strong Republican base that enabled Hastert to squeak a win with just 52 percent of the vote. On February 2, 2010 Hastert's son Ethan lost a bid for the GOP nomination. After that, he never faced another election nearly that close, especially after redistricting in the 1990s made the district even more Republican.

During his first twelve years in Congress, Hastert worked closely with Illinois Republican leaders, especially Minority Leader Robert Michel. After the Republicans took control of the House in 1995, Hastert was named Chief Deputy Whip, the highest appointed position in the House Republican caucus. In this position, he was chief vote-counter for then Majority Whip Tom DeLay.


Hastert as Speaker during the 108th House of Representatives.

Election as Speaker

In the aftermath of the 1998 midterm elections, House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia stood down for the Speakership and declined to take his seat for an 11th term. The initial Republican prospect for Gingrich's replacement was Bob Livingston of Louisiana, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who was unanimously chosen as the Republican candidate for Speaker--and de facto Speaker-elect. However, soon thereafter, Hustler magazine detailed sexual affairs Livingston had in the past while seemingly hypocritically attacking President Bill Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky scandal; Livingston announced he wouldn't seek the Speakership and resigned from Congress.

With Livingston's departure, the leading candidates for Speaker appeared to be DeLay and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, both of Texas. However, Armey had just fended off a bruising challenge to his majority leader's post from Steve Largent of Oklahoma.

This seemed to open the door for DeLay. However, DeLay was as controversial then as now, and felt that he would be "too nuclear" to lead a closely divided House.[7] The Republican caucus then turned to Hastert as a compromise candidate. He had very good relationships with moderate and conservative Republicans, as well as Democrats. Hastert was then unanimously elected as the Republican candidate for Speaker, all but assuring his formal election as Speaker on January 6, 1999.

Tenure as speaker

In accepting the position, Hastert broke with tradition by delivering his acceptance speech from the floor, and by allowing House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri to preside briefly. Hastert pledged to work for bipartisanship, saying: "Solutions to problems cannot be found in a pool of bitterness. They can be found in an environment in which we trust one another's word; where we generate heat and passion, but where we recognize that each member is equally important to our overall mission of improving the life of the American people." In November 2004, however, Hastert instituted his "majority of the majority" policy, allowing the House to vote only on bills supported by the majority of its Republican members.[8] His policy agenda focused on taxes, education, Social Security, Medicare, and national defense.

Although by tradition, Hastert was the leader of the House Republicans, he adopted a much lower profile in the media than conventional wisdom would suggest for a Speaker. This led to accusations that he was only a figurehead for DeLay. Still, in the months after the September 11 attacks, he met regularly with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, the two Senate leaders and the House minority leader to shape the national response.

President George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. Over the President's right shoulder is Dick Cheney; over his left is Hastert.

As Speaker, Hastert traditionally did not serve on any committee. He usually did not participate in debate (though he had the right to do so) and almost never voted on the floor.

Hastert has been a prominent advocate of the FairTax proposal to replace the income tax with a national sales tax. He has been a strong supporter of all of the Bush administration's foreign and domestic policies.

On June 1, 2006, Hastert became the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House in history, surpassing the record previously held by fellow Illinoisan Joe Cannon, who held the post from November 1903 to March 1911.

On October 27, 2005, Hastert became the first Speaker of the House to author a blog on his website called, the "Speaker's Journal."[9] In his first post, he wrote, "This is Denny Hastert and welcome to my blog. This is new to me. I can’t say I’m much of a techie. I guess you could say my office is teaching the old guy new tricks. But I’m excited. This is the future. And it is a new way for us to get our message out."[10]

Post-Speakership career

Hastert was reelected to his seat by a margin of 59.75 percent vs. 40.25 percent in the 2006 election, but that year the Republicans lost control, and soon after, Hastert announced he would not run for the post of Minority leader. He had long made it known that the 2007-09 term (110th Congress) would be his last.[1] On June 1, 2007, State Senator Chris Lauzen declared his intention to seek the Republican nomination from Hastert's district. [11] On July 2007, three-time statewide candidate Jim Oberweis also declared his intention to seek the Republican nomination from Hastert's district. The next month, Geneva mayor Kevin Burns became the third Republican candidate in the race to succeed Hastert.[12]

On Aug. 10, 2007, Hastert's office sent letters to his supporters stating that he would announce whether he would be running for another term as congressman of the 14th district. The press conference was set to take place at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville, Illinois on August 17 at 10 a.m. According to sources, Hastert usually announced his intention to run by sending out a press release. On August 14, 2007, a blog[13] reported that Hastert was planning to retire from politics at the end of his term.[14]

On October 17, 2007, the political newspaper Roll Call announced that Hastert would resign from the House before the end of 2007. [2] He gave a farewell speech on the House Floor on November 15, 2007, which was followed by remarks from Speaker Pelosi.

Finally, on November 26, 2007, Hastert submitted his resignation, effective at 11:59pm that day, to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, explaining that the timing allowed the governor to set the primary for the special election to fill out the remainder of his term on February 5, 2008, the same day as the primary for the November general election.[citation needed] Gov. Blagojevich, however, chose to name a special and separate election on Saturday, March 8, 2008 for this remainder of Hastert's term. This created great controversy as the expense to the county election services involved was construed by many as being of Hastert's making, when he had purposefully resigned with adequate time to have his position filled by special ballot on the day of the regular Illinois primary on February 5.[15] Ultimately, the special election was held on March 8, 2008 and the Democratic candidate, Bill Foster, prevailed over the Republican candidate, Jim Oberweis.

As ex-speaker, Hastert has spent more than $1 million on his office space and staff from 2008 to 2010. This included annual salaries of more than $100,000 each for three staff members. [16]

Electoral history

Illinois House of Representatives: 39th district

  • 1980 election (top three candidates elected)
    • Suzanne L. Deuchler (R), 34.87%
    • Dennis Hastert (R), 29.06%
    • Lawrence Murphy (D), 21.81%
    • Dwain Givens (D), 14.26%

Illinois House of Representatives: 82nd district

  • 1982 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R), 67.84%
    • James E. McCauley (D), 32.16%
  • 1984 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 100.0%

U.S. House of Representatives: Illinois's 14th district

  • 1986 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R), 52.36%
    • Mary Lou Kearns (D), 47.64%
  • 1988 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 73.70%
    • Stephen Youhanaie (D), 26.30%
  • 1990 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 66.90%
    • Donald Westphal (D), 33.10%
  • 1992 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 67.32%
    • Jonathan Reich (D), 32.64%
    • Yvonne Dinwiddle (write-in), 0.02%
  • 1994 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 76.48%
    • Steve Denari (D), 23.52%
  • 1996 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 64.39%
    • Doug Mains (D), 35.60%
  • 1998 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 69.77%
    • Robert A. Cozzi, Jr. (D), 30.23%
  • 2000 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 73.99%
    • Vernon DelJohnson (D), 26.01%
  • 2002 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 74.14%
    • Lawrence Quick (D), 25.86%
  • 2004 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 68.63%
    • Ruben Zamora (D), 31.37%
  • 2006 election
    • Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 59.79%
    • Jonathan Laesch (D), 40.21%


Hastert's oldest son, Joshua, is a lobbyist for the firm PodestaMattoon.[17] He has lobbied for clients ranging from Amgen, a biotech company, to Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor, provoking criticism from Congress Watch: "There definitely should be restrictions [on family members registering as lobbyists] ... This is family members cashing in on connections ... [and i]t is an ideal opportunity for special interest groups to exploit family relationships for personal gain." Joshua rejoined that he does not lobby House Republican leaders.[18]

Hastert's son Ethan, then 22, was arrested and cited in 2001 on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and other traffic violations.[19] He worked on Dick Cheney's staff.[20] He has since finished law school and works as an attorney for Mayer Brown.[21] Ethan ran in 2010 as a Republican for his father's old seat, Illinois' 14th Congressional District, but in the February 2nd primary was defeated by Illinois State Senator Randy Hultgren. [22] [23]

See also


The sport of wrestling is a tremendous builder of the values and characteristics which are needed to succeed in any walk of life. Much of what I have managed to achieve in life I owe directly to the years I spent in the wrestling room, as an athlete and a coach. Wrestling is a great educational tool.


Further reading

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John E. Grotberg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 14th congressional district

January 6, 1987 – November 26, 2007
Succeeded by
Bill Foster
Political offices
Preceded by
Newt Gingrich
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
January 6, 1999 – January 3, 2003;
January 7, 2003 – January 3, 2005;
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2007
Succeeded by
Nancy Pelosi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert Smith Walker
Chief Deputy Republican Whip
1995 – 1999
Succeeded by
Roy Blunt


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address