Tom Cross

Quiet technician in speaker's role; House: Rep. Dennis Hastert, due to be elected today, is known for hard work behind the scenes rather than controversial public stands.

WASHINGTON -- When Dennis Hastert was elected president of his high school class in Oswego, Ill., it was someone else -- a dynamic student politician -- who ended up nicknamed "Senator." Now, even as the Illinois Republican prepares to become the next speaker of the House, he still does not seem the sort of politician who ends up with a flashy title.

"The 'Senator' was the idea guy -- but Dennis was the hard worker," said Tom Jarman, a longtime friend who went to high school with Hastert. "He always took the jobs that required organization and discipline -- the jobs where what he had to do was get things done."

This workmanlike approach is exactly...