Path to Power
Hastings started life in 1941 in Spokane, Wash. as Richard-but soon shed that name for good in favor of "Doc," which his older brother called him as a child. His introduction to politics came on a visit to his grandmother's cabin in Montana. "She had a battery-power radio, tuned to both the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 1948," Hastings says. "I remember being fascinated listening to those events."
His political career took a while getting started, though. After high school in Pasco, Wash., Hastings spent some time at Columbia Basin College, and then enrolled at Central Washington University, but dropped out after his first year-a decision which he later said he regretted-and left to spend several years in California, where he met his wife and served in the Army Reserves.
Hastings isn't a complete party-line voter; he departed from the GOP position a little over ten percent of the time in the 111th Congress.
And he remains highly responsive to the concerns of his district, which is largely agrarian and approximately one-quarter Hispanic (he said that his proudest legislative achievement was the enactment in 2003 of the Citizens' Soldier Act, which makes legal immigrants serving in the military eligible for citizenship after one year in uniform.)
Hastings was a key ally of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) before he retired in 2007. The Washington representative has also collaborated across the aisle with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray on the state's agricultural issues-in a symbolic sign of partnership, the pair sent a batch of Washington asparagus to President George W. Bush after he praised its German equivalent on a trip overseas.