Tri-City Herald: Farewell Doc Hastings, and thanks for everything

If politics is a game, it helps to have an experienced player on your team.

So we are really going to miss Republican Doc Hastings as our U.S. representative in Washington, D.C.

After 20 years of managing the intricacies of the legislative fray, Hastings is retiring and coming home to the other Washington.

In a job where hard work does not always equal success, Hastings managed a number of victories for Central Washington during his tenure. And in a final crescendo to end his career he, along with his colleagues in the Senate, helped establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Hanford.

It is a fitting finale and an example of Hastings’ tenacity and ingenuity. He had been a champion of the project for years and could get it through the House, but it would inevitably die in the Senate. This year, he tried a different strategy and attached the proposal to the National Defense Authorization Act. It was a great idea and the park, along with a Hanford land transfer and some access to Rattlesnake Mountain, were approved after many years of failure.

These accomplishments would not have happened had it not been for Hastings’ influence, but they are just a final triumph. There have been many others.

To name a few: He also was founder of the House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus, which he used as a way of explaining Hanford issues to his colleagues every session. He was a champion of small business and agriculture and a protector of the state’s dams and of Social Security benefits. To the dismay of preservationists, he took on the Endangered Species Act, calling for its overhaul in an effort to give more power to the states.

Not everyone agreed with his policies, of course. Union leaders and environmentalists are likely relieved to see him go.

But politicians can’t please everyone. All they can do is represent their constituents and be true to their principles. Hastings did that. He never seemed to forget who he was representing. Some politicians head off to Washington, D.C., and become part of the machine, but through the years he kept his integrity and his roots.

He was so well respected, in fact, that he was chosen chairman of the House Ethics Committee and held that post in 2005 and 2006. Judging colleagues is not an easy task and it was a high-pressure position, but he managed to get through his duty with as much grace as possible.

His counterpart in the House, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said that there is “nobody whose character I’ve come to admire more” than Hastings. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Hastings was “always absolutely committed” to Central Washington.

We agree. Thanks Doc, you served us well.