Thursday, November 9, 2006

Personal Aside: The Big Rumor That Won’t Be Dismissed.

It’s pretty late at night and I’m not going to go into a lot of research but a rumor has been bubbling up that should be recorded…even if it’s knocked down later as more information comes due. The rumor, substantiated by a number of people I’ve talked to who know the Denny Hastert people personally is this: Denny Hastert has determined to resign before his term as Speaker expires—for one reason only. When you step down as Speaker your pension is calculated on your level of pay and Speaker’s pay is a lot more than that of an ordinary member of Congress. Somebody who’s a lot fresher than I am at this hour of the night can check Denny’s salary but I think it’s in the neighborhood of, say, $200,000 plus.

That said, the Hastert people have determined to tap a state legislator for the official nod—with the official imprimatur as the successor. He will be appointed and will actually serve as a Congressman in the interim. The rumor goes on to the effect that under state law the governor must set the date of a special election. And also that state law ordains that Republicans and Democrats all run together rather than in two separate parties, Republican and Democrat. If this is true…and I must confess I think it’s weird but, again, I haven’t the time to check the statute…but if this is true and the Democrats enforce a rigid discipline so that only one Democrat files they can probably triumph over a flurry of Republican candidates including newly-reelected State Senator Chris Lauzen. Since Republicans are notoriously undisciplined…witness the March primary where Topinka was nominated because Bill Brady wouldn’t run for something else…expect the list to be filled with GOP congressional wanna-be’s and one Democrat. The Democrat they have in mind is an Hispanic woman, I’m informed. She used to be a Republican and who was shunted aside by the party so she drifted to the Democrats.

I don’t know the time-frame or the statute but there it is. If it doesn’t prove out, it’s at least checking out. Something tells me that Denny Hastert isn’t the kind of man to take a pay cut and simply serve as a Congressman for a long time in the minority…in an attempt to prove, as one story has it…that his stepping down now would cause his career to end on a sour note. That sounds like a lot of baloney to me. Serving as a minority congressman after having been Speaker automatically means winding up on a sour notre. Why not take the full salary level when you retire?

So have at it lads and lasses.


  1. Dennis Hastert's salary as Speaker of the House is $212,100.


  2. I am not an election law expert, but I seem to remember that Jesse Jackson, Jr was nominated in a special primary in 1995 when he ran to replace Mel Reynolds. I think this was the last time we filled a Congressional seat in Illinois in a special election. I don't remember any significant changes to the Illinois Election Statute in this area since then.