Hastert Won’t Seek Minority Leader Post

Denny Hastert has, finally, done the honorable thing and announced he will not seek re-election to the Leadership.

Triggering a post-election shake-up, Dennis Hastert announced Wednesday he will not run for leader of House Republicans when Democrats take control in January.

“Obviously I wish my party had won,” the House Speaker said in a statement that added he intends to return to the “full-time task” of representing his Illinois constituents.

His decision to step down from the leadership cleared the way for a likely succession battle among lawmakers who face the sudden loss of power after a dozen years in the majority. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, currently the majority leader, is expected to run for leader, and Reps. Mike Pence of Indiana and Joe Barton of Texas have signaled they may challenge him.

Hastert first conveyed word of his plans in a conference call with fellow GOP leaders one day after Republicans lost control of the House in midterm elections.

There is no recent precedent for Hastert’s situation. The last time control of the House changed hands, in 1994, the speaker at the time, Democratic Rep. Tom Foley of Washington, lost his House seat.

Well, Newt Gingrich resigned after a series of scandals and an embarrassing setback in midterm elections that fell short of costing his party the majority.

Too bad Hastert didn’t do this several weeks ago, as I suggested. It probably wouldn’t have been enough to stave off the thumpin’, but it couldn’t have hurt.

UPDATE: Deborah Pryce has announced she will not run for another term a chairman of the House Republican Conference. The key part of her resignation letter (via email):

As all of you know, I faced a very tough reelection fight for my congressional seat this cycle. While there are still thousands of provisional ballots left to be counted, all signs indicate that we have won the race and I am confident I will eventually be declared the winner. While I know we can keep this seat Republican in the future, it will take time and effort. I believe it is in the best interest of the party and the Conference that I keep my focus on my district for the next two years and ensure this seat remains safely in Republican hands.

I wish to thank each of you for the support you have given me as Conference Chair. It has meant a lot to me. Working together, I am confident we can overcome last night’s defeat and soon return ourselves to the majority.

This will help ever so slightly.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.