Hi. It’s Chad. Normally, we applaud when Republicans leave Congress. But this resignation didn’t strike me quite right.
Denny Hastert likes to think of himself as a wrestling coach more than being Speaker of the House (he was a better coach than speaker). If one of his wrestlers came to him in the middle of a match and said he wanted to leave, Hastert would probably chew his tail out and tell him to finish the match. In wrestling, even if you down a whole bunch of points, if you can pin your opponent before the final whistle, you win the match.
So when Hastert decides he wants to quit his Congressional seat before the term is up, what would Hastert, the coach, say to Hastert, the former speaker? “Get your butt back in there and finish the match.”
But Hastert is quitting Congress, and we’re not really sure why. We know he’s unhappy being in the minority, we know he wants to set up a replacement. But many House reps also feel that way, and yet they finish their terms.
If there is some sinister reason (e.g., health), there’s no indication. In fact, he has lost a bunch of weight lately.
Illinois law requires the governor, within five days after Hastert resigns, to schedule a special election that must be held within 115 days. The ideal date for the special election would be the regular primary election on Feb. 5. But that might give Democrats an advantage in a special election, given the momentum from having its native son (Obama) and Illinois-birthplace holder (Hillary Clinton) run for president. And Hastert seems very concerned about not giving the Democrats an advantage.
Also a special election and a separate day for a primary adds costs to the election process, and why do that if it’s not necessary.
Hastert is even vague about exactly when he’s going to leave. Why not? After all, there doesn’t appear to be any reason for him to leave. If he does leave at the end of the year, as he has hinted he’ll do, why not stay one more year?
Regardless of party affiliation, you should have a compelling reason to leave a House seat early. It’s only a 2-year stint. It’s an elected office, so when you choose to leave, you violate the trust of those who sent you there.