Hastings ran for Congress after his removal as a federal judge and handily won election in 1992 after beating then-state Rep. Lois Frankel in the Democratic primary, becoming Florida’s first Black congressman since after the Civil War. He served for fifteen terms in the House and was the dean of the Florida House delegation as its longest-serving member.
He was an advocate for minorities, women, and immigrants during his tenure in Congress, and was the vice chair of the House Rules Committee in the 117th Congress.
But his tenure was not without controversy. The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Hastings’ relationship with a staffer in the last Congress. House rules do not allow lawmakers to hold romantic relationships with staff, but they can employ their spouses. The Ethics Committee ended its investigation after it was disclosed Hastings married the staffer.
Hastings’ death further narrows Democrats’ majority in the House, bringing the current party breakdown to 218-211.