PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 8 (UPI) — Mark Hatfield, a liberal Republican who represented Oregon in the U.S. Senate for 30 years, died Sunday at age 89, a longtime aide said.
Gerry Frank said Hatfield had been ill for a long time, The New York Times reported.
The Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., reported Hatfield died at a care facility in Portland, Ore. He had spent several months recently at a medical facility in Bethesda, Md., that bears his name, the newspaper said.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, lamented the death of Hatfield, who he said “had a more profound impact on Oregon in the last half century” than any other person.
“We’ve lost a true statesman whose legacy lives on in his countless contributions to Oregon’s quality of life,” Kitzhber said. “Senator Hatfield’s moral compass, independence and willingness to reach across the aisle are an inspiration to me and countless Oregonians.”
Hatfield, a Dallas native, also served in the Oregon Legislature and was the state’s youngest secretary of state and governor, the Statesman Journal said.
The Times noted Hatfield, who was chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee for eight years, was a maverick who bucked his party’s position on a balance-budget amendment. He also was the first prominent Republican to come out against the Vietnam War, the newspaper said.
Hatfield also supported the creation of the institutes’ Office for Rare Diseases Research, saying in 2001 medical research is something “the government does extremely well,” the Times said.
His reputation took a hit in 1992 when the Senate ethics committee found he had to disclose gifts from a former university president who sought his support for a government grant, the Times said. But the panel ruled there was no “quid pro quo” and said his handling of the University of South Carolina’s grant requests was routine.
He is survived by his wife Antoinette, two sons, two daughters and eight grandchildren.