Washington state Republican Hastings to
retire from U.S. Congress
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[February 14, 2014]
By Jonathan Kaminsky
OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) — U.S.
Representative Richard "Doc" Hastings, a 10-term Republican from
Washington state, said on Thursday that he would retire this year rather
than seek re-election in his largely rural, conservative-leaning
Hastings is the 33rd member of the House of Representatives to
announce plans to step down at the end of 2014, either to retire or
to run for other office, according to a tally kept by the Capitol
Hill newspaper Roll Call.
He is one of 21 House Republicans vacating their seats, but his
departure is not expected to alter the balance of power in the
GOP-controlled body because his district is considered solidly
Hastings, first elected in 1994 and now chairman of the House
Natural Resources Committee, said a desire to spend more time with
his family in Washington state was an important factor in his
decision to retire.
"Last Friday, I celebrated my 73rd birthday, and while I have the
ability and seniority to continue serving central Washington, it is
time for the voters to choose a new person with new energy to
represent them in the people's House," he said.
The 4th Congressional District represented by Hastings covers a vast
expanse of central Washington, stretching from the Oregon border
north to Canada.
Sixty percent of voters in the district backed Republican Mitt
Romney over President Barack Obama in the 2012 race for the White
House. Hastings has garnered at least 59.9 percent of the vote in
each of his re-election bids since 1998.
Knute Berger, a Seattle-based political analyst, said all
indications are that the district remains essentially a safe seat
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But Peter May, chair of the University of Washington's political
science department, said even with the district's right-leaning
makeup, Democrats might have a shot at a turnover if they run a
centrist candidate and Republicans nominate a hard-line
"Things can change dramatically when you move to an open seat," he
Hastings served in the Washington state legislature before winning a
congressional seat on his second try in 1994, as part of the GOP
sweep that year that gave Republicans a House majority for the first
time in four decades.
Democrat Jay Inslee, unseated by Hastings in 1994, went on to win
election to another House seat in Washington state and last year was
"I always appreciated Doc's hard work on behalf of the 4th
district," Inslee said in a statement.
(Reporting by Bill Trott in Washington and Jonathan Kaminsky in
Olympia, Washington; editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Mohammad Zargham
and Jan Paschal)
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