After two decades as south central Washington’s congressman, Republican Doc Hastings announced Thursday that he is retiring at the end of the year.
“I turned 73 last Friday," says Hastings. "And one more term I would have been nearly 76, so I just thought this was the right time.”
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.
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.
In Hastings' words, “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."
Bruce Smith, publisher of the Yakima Valley Business Times, watches south central Washington politics closely. He says Hastings’ power and seniority in Congress will be hard to replace -- but also his rapport with business owners and farmers.
“He’s been the same guy for the 25 years that I’ve known him," says Smith. "He’s the same whether he’s wearing jeans or a suit and that’s really unusual in this business.”
Political watchers are already speculating on who might run to replace the long-time U.S. representative. The district is considered strongly Republican, so a Democratic upset is unlikely.
The short list of candidates who might be in the running for Hastings’ seat include: Eastside state Senator Janea Holmquist Newbry, Clint Didier, who made a run for U.S. Senate in 2010 as a conservative Republican, Benton County commissioner Jerome Delvin, and former state agriculture director Dan Newhouse.