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  Hastert Sets Record as Longest-Serving Republican House Speaker
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ContributorJ.R. 
Last EditedJ.R.  Jun 01, 2006 04:09pm
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News DateThursday, June 1, 2006 10:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionHastert Sets Record as Longest-Serving Republican House Speaker
June 1 (Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who has helped shepherd much of U.S. President George W. Bush's agenda through Congress, today became the longest-serving Republican House speaker in U.S. history.

Elected to lead the House in January 1999, Hastert bests the record set by the legendary Joe Cannon, a cigar-chomping party boss whose iron-fisted style as speaker from 1903-1911 earned him the nickname ``Czar Cannon.'' Hastert, by contrast, is called ``the coach'' by Republican colleagues because of his mild- mannered approach.

``He is not a large public figure, but he is very shrewd and he listens to all of the factions within his party, and he's had the advantage of a very good team of leaders,'' said Roger Davidson, a visiting professor of political science at the University of California in Santa Barbara.

The longevity record for Democratic House speakers is held by Sam Rayburn, who kept the post over 17 non-consecutive years beginning in 1940 and ending with his death in 1961. Four Democrats have served as speaker longer than Hastert.

Hastert, 64, is third in line for the presidency, after Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney.

In the House's top post, Hastert has governed a chamber with a slim Republican majority, at one point with a margin of just four votes. Today, Republicans have 231 of the House's 435 seats, while Democrats have 201. There is one independent and two vacancies.
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