Former Speaker of the House Dennis J. Hastert this morning denied speculation that he would retire early from a seat he has occupied for 21 years in Illinois' 14th Congressional District.

"Rumor of my demise has been greatly exaggerated," Hastert said during an interview on Chicago radio WLS-AM's "Don Wade & Roma Morning Show".

Rumors began circulating last week about Hastert's departure. The Chicago Sun Times reported Oct. 19 that a source indicated his resignation would happen by Thanksgiving.

Hastert's term doesn't end until January 2009. If he retires before May 8, 2008, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has the authority to call for a special election.

"That could create political chaos in the 14th Congressional District, where two primary elections could be held at the same time -- to nominate candidates to run to fill the vacancy and to nominate contenders for the full term," the Sun Times reported.

During Hastert's interview on the Don Wade & Roma Morning Show he reportedly said he did not "completely close the door on an early departure from Washington."

He said he plans to keep working as long as he can get things accomplished.

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