"It is the best Republican seat in the whole state of Illinois,'' Hastert told me. Noting how hard it is to beat an incumbent, the speaker said, "And once someone has possession of a seat like that, no matter what the numbers are, it is not always easy to take it back.Sweet thinks that Hastert's decision let Republican candidates fight it out for the opportunity to take on Bean -- rather than to rally Illinois GOPers behind one strong candidate -- works to Bean's advantage.
"I think we need to find the best candidate, and I think we need to have a lot of folks who are interested in it come forward and present their case.''
It should also work to the advantage of Democrat Christine Cegelis' campaign to take the 6th District seat currently occupied by Henry Hyde. No doubt, both Bean and Cegelis will be pleased to have Hastert and the Illinois Republican power-brokers split their support among several hopefuls, while the Democrats get behind their two proven candidates.
Sweet also says that Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chief, again needled Hastert, noting that Denny's comment "sounds a little close to throwing in the towel.''