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Local

Hastert’s son may run for Congress

ELBURN – A familiar name could be on the ballot next year when voters in the 14th District head to the polls to choose the Republican nominee for Congress.

Ethan Hastert, 31, a lawyer and son of former U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, has confirmed that he is considering a campaign for Congress.

“It’s still very early in the process,” he said. “I am just starting to talk to people – people whose counsel I trust – about this.”

Hastert lives in Elburn, in western Kane County. He is an associate, specializing in litigation, at the Chicago office of Mayer Brown, and has never held elected office.

Dennis Hastert represented the 14th District from 1987 to 2007. From 1999 to 2007, he was Speaker of the House.

He resigned in late 2007, in the middle of his 11th term, after Republicans lost control of the House in the 2006 election. He was succeeded by Democrat Bill Foster, who defeated Republican Jim Oberweis last spring in a special election and again in November in the general election.

Greg Witzleb, chairman of the Lee County Republican Central Committee, said Dennis Hastert was a good representative, but his son’s candidacy should be based on its own merits.

“[Dennis Hastert] does have a lot of friends out there,” Witzleb said. “But do I think we should judge his son by what Dennis did or did not do? No.”

Although Witzleb said he did not know a lot about Ethan Hastert’s background, his age and lack of experience in an elected office wouldn’t necessarily hurt his chances. In fact, they might help. Witzleb cited U.S. Rep. Aaron Shock, R-Peoria, who vaulted to celebrity status when, as a 27-year-old, was elected in November.

“So I think [Schock] will be good Republican candidate, and Mr. [Ethan] Hastert might also, but at this point in time I think it might be a little too early to say,” Witzleb said. “But we need a good Republican candidate. I will say that.”

SVN reporter Chase Castle contributed to this report.

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