The battle to succeed him will be bruising, as members attempt to allocate blame for the Foley mess. Among those seeking to replace him at the top of the House leadership, which will now be the minority leader, are House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), now second in the House leadership, and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House conservative caucus, the Republican Study Committee. Other possible candidates are Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), now chief deputy whip and one of the most popular and hard-working members of the leadership, and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), now chairman of Energy and Committee.
The Speaker plans to announce his departure this week and perhaps as soon as today, officials said. Leadership elections are scheduled for next Wednesday but are likely to be pushed back to closer to the deadline under party rules, which is Dec. 20.
Hastert had long planned not to seek reelection to his House seat in 2008. His officials biography says he is the first Republican Speaker in more than a century and one of only two Republicans to preside over consecutive electoral seat gains in the U.S House of Representatives, and is also one of two Republicans to be reelected Speaker for four consecutive terms.