Veteran U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings To Retire; Who'll Be Tapped?

Feb 13, 2014

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings will retire at the end of the year, he announced Thursday.

Political watchers are already speculating on who might run to replace the long-time representative. The district is considered strongly Republican, so a Democratic upset is unlikely.

Hastings served two decades as south-central Washington’s Republican congressman. 

“I turned 73 last Friday, and one more term, I would have been nearly 76, so I just thought this was the right time,” he said.

The 10-term Congressman says he’s worked to protect the livelihoods important to the Yakima Valley and the Tri-Cities. That includes nuclear cleanup, agriculture and natural resources. Hastings has fought on issues not popular in western Washington and in other parts of the country.

“When there are threats to our dams, for example, or if there is an over interpretation to the Endangered Species Act, that has a negative effect on our economy,” Hastings said.

Hastings says he’s fought to keep hydroelectric dams firmly in place along the Columbia and Snake rivers despite protests by salmon advocates. And as the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, he’s pushed to reduce the clout of the Endangered Species Act for landowners nationwide. 

Bruce Smith, publisher of the Yakima Valley Business Times, watches south-central Washington politics closely. And he says Hastings’ power and seniority in Congress will be hard to replace, but also missed will be his rapport with business owners and farmers. 

“He’s been the same guy for the 25 years that I’ve known him. He’s the same, whether he’s wearing jeans or a suit, and that’s really unusual in this business,” Smith said.

According to political observers, the short list of candidates that might be in the running for Hastings’ seat include: Eastside state Sen. Janea Homquist Newbry, Clint Didier, who made a run for Washington governor as a conservative Republican, Benton County commissioner Jerome Delvin and former state agriculture director Dan Newhouse.