Dennis Hastert Hastert was born in Aurora,Illinois and grew up in Oswego, Illinois. He graduated from Wheaton College, Illinois in 1964 and earned a master's degree in education from Northern Illinois University in 1967. He moved to Yorkville, 55 miles west of Chicago and took a job as a government and history teacher at Yorkville High School. He also coached wrestling and football, leading the wrestling team to a state title in 1976. In 1980, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives and served three terms, becoming ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee.
14th District Congressman John Groteberg did not run for a second term in 1986 due to a terminal illness. Hastert was nominated by a Republican convention to succeed him. He faced Mary Lou Kearns, the Democratic coroner of Kane County. Hastert initially ran a sluggish campaign, but eventually the district's strong Republican lean (the 14th has been held by Republicans for all but four years since its formation in 1903) prevailed, allowing Hastert to win with 52 percent of the vote. He has never faced another contest nearly that close, winning reelection nine times with close to 70 percent of the vote.