Updated at 10:32 a.m. with statement from Doc Hastings:
WASHINGTON — Clint Didier, the fiery conservative running in a rare open race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, lashed out at the 10-term Republican incumbent Wednesday for endorsing his rival for Washington’s 4th Congressional District seat.
In a statement issued an hour before Hastings was to appear in Richland to officially announce his endorsement of Dan Newhouse, Didier portrayed himself as a conservative grassroots favorite going up against the Republican establishment’s choice.
Didier, a former NFL player and an alfalfa farmer from Eltopia, finished first in Washington’s nonpartisan top-two primary in August. Newhouse, a former state legislator and director of agriculture, finished second. Both will be on the ballot in November.
Didier dismissed Newhouse as a “career politician” and Hastings as a lawmaker beholden to business interests. He said he did not seek or expect Hastings’ support.
“They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps – so I think people can easily figure out if they want a Congressman whose friends and supporters are lobbyists, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Monsanto, DC and other beltway insiders whose money and power have gotten us into the mess we’re in now– or one who is supported by liberty-loving patriots who want to limit federal government powers and restore our freedoms.”
Didier is endorsed by Ron Paul, the Libertarian former congressman and presidential candidate. He also has a string of endorsements from conservative and tea-party groups, including Freedomworks, Human Life political-action committee and the National Association for Gun Rights.
Didier won 31.8 percent of the 107,000 votes cast in the 12-person primary contest. Newhouse received 25.6 percent. The field included two candidates who prefer the Democratic Party and two who lean to being independents. They collectively received nearly a quarter of the votes.
After Didier’s statement, Newhouse and Hastings appeared at the Richland Community Center and confirmed the endorsement. Hastings, in a statement, said Newhouse would be the best advocate for Central Washington priorities:
“Dan’s experience as a state legislator taught him the importance of controlling spending and balancing budgets. His work as a 3rd generation family farmer taught him the value of local control and sound science in land use decisions. And growing up in Central Washington, he learned about the need for more water storage in this area and the responsibility of the federal government to clean up Hanford” nuclear reservation.