Doc's experience qualifies him to get things going

By the Tri-City HeraldOctober 23, 2012 

Mary Baechler, a Democrat from Yakima, wants to unseat U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings. We're not going to be able to help with that.

Hastings has been in Congress a long time. Some say it's been too long. Baechler is one of those critics.

We're sympathetic to the argument, but longevity has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. In Congress, seniority equates to power.

As chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Hastings plays a pivotal role in overseeing the Bonneville Power Administration, the Columbia Basin Project, the Yakima Project, federal hydropower dams, and national forests -- all areas where the federal government intersects with the interests of the Mid-Columbia.

Baechler accuses Hastings of being out of touch with local concerns and focused only on national problems.

We recognize that our federal representatives have to balance the concerns of the country with those of their local communities. Our federally elected officials can't be one or the other.

Local concerns are often helped by a U.S. senator or representative, but to be effective, those leaders have to look at the bigger picture.

And some of our regional concerns, like immigration reform or Hanford cleanup, have to be addressed at a national level. They're bigger problems than what we can solve on our own.

That said, Baechler's claim that Hastings has focused on national priorities to the detriment of the district don't ring true. He's done a lot for the Mid-Columbia, helping to secure funds for Hanford, advocating for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, working to ensure the future of the regions dams and more.

Baechler questions Hastings' alliances, choices and ethics. She accuses him of being a party-line guy. He does have an R behind his name and votes that way.

It's no surprise that he's vowed to push for repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act and he wants to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by opening more federal lands to drilling.

Yes, Hastings is a party man.

However, many of the platitudes that Baechler espouses are solidly in line with the Democratic Party. We wouldn't expect anything different from her. In fact, it's one of the things we like most about this race -- voters have a clear choice between competing political views.

That's fine for the campaign season, but after the election, we need to get beyond party lines. Our representatives in Washington, D.C., need think broadly about what is best for the nation.

It's disappointing to us that the partisan divide grows wider each year, despite nearly every candidate's affirmation to "work across the aisle."

We're glad to see Baechler in the race. She has some good ideas -- most of them for local improvements. Since this is her first attempt at elected office, perhaps she'll want to run again for something closer to home if she's not successful in her bid to unseat Hastings.

But we don't think she's an adequate replacement for the incumbent.

Hastings has been in the House since 1995. He has a lot of experience and connections there. In our opinion, he could help to get things moving again -- even though he's sometimes part of the stalemate.

His platforms are well intentioned. Let's see some action behind those words.

The Tri-City Herald editorial board recommends Doc Hastings for the 4th District of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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