Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hastert to resign early

This is off The Politico:

Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is expected to announce that he plans to leave the House later this year, setting up the widely anticipated prospect of a special election to replace him, Republican sources on Capitol Hill confirmed.

Hastert initially planned to make an announcement Thursday but has since scrapped that decision, according to one GOP aide. The former speaker, who announced his plans to retire over the summer, is still expected to leave the House some time in December, but the date of his departure — as well as his announcement — remains unclear.

Hastert has been expected to announce his early resignation from the House at some point during the fall, but his move, which Roll Call first reported, still has an uncertain effect on the race to replace him.

Republicans are already locked in a hard-fought primary. But Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich could fast-track that intramural contest in order to schedule the special on the same day as the state's Feb. 5 primary — when Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will be on the ballot in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

That latter scenario would give congressional Democrats — which Blagojevich once was — a major advantage in the special election to pick up a predominantly Republican seat, because Democratic turnout is expected to be heavy in support of Obama.

I can see how the Republicans are going to be very pissed at whether Blagojevich fast-tracks the special election for Hastert's seat of Feb. 5, right when Illinois voters will be turning out to vote for the Democratic presidential primary with Obama's name on the ballot. But that's politics. But what is more interesting here is that we have another big-name Republican congressman retiring from office, bringing this seat to an open election. We've seen Republican senators John Warner, Pete Dominici, and Chuck Hagel announce their retirements. These are all big-name congressional seats that are now open. The GOP is going to have to spend money in an attempt to retain those seats against both strong Democratic challenges, and to convince an American electorate to continue voting Republican, even as that American electorate shows strong disapproval with the Bush administration.

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