Hastings ran for Congress following his impeachment as a federal judge and won the election in 1992 after defeating then State Representative Lois Frankel in the Democratic primary, becoming the first member of Congress black from Florida since the Civil War. He served fifteen terms in the House and was the oldest member of the Florida House delegation.
He was an advocate for minorities, women, and immigrants during his time in Congress, and was the deputy chairman of the House Rules Committee at the 117th Congress.
But his tenure was not without controversy. The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Hastings’ relationship with a staff member at the last convention. House rules do not allow lawmakers to have romantic relationships with staff, but they can employ their spouses. The ethics committee ended its investigation after revealing that Hastings had married the staff member.
Hastings’ death further reduces the Democratic majority in the House, bringing the party’s current split to 218-211.
Condolences poured in for Hastings. Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) said that “the life and legacy of Hastings will continue to be part of our power and our message, and will serve as a motivator for those who follow in his footsteps – as leaders, fighters, and advocates who represent the best that our nation has to offer. ”
Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Who served alongside Hastings for many years on the committee, said he had lost a “friend”, Congress had “lost a giant “and” those who are too often invisible. in America have lost a champion. ”
“Our prayers go out to his family and loved ones,” Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) Tweeted. And Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) Said she had “lost a precious friend and a true mentor, someone I have relied on constantly for wise advice.”