Hatfield, right, is serenaded on his 73rd birthday. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
A trio of documentarians is working to ensure that the political legacy of the late Sen. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon does not fade into obscurity, producing a feature-length retrospective on the compromise-embracing Republican, titled “The Gentleman of the Senate.”
Rick Dancer, one of the co-executive producers of “The Hatfield Project,” said his group has woven interviews with nearly six dozen people who worked with, and often alongside, Hatfield throughout his long-winding career into the roughly 150-minute film. The who’s who of Hatfield’s political pals includes: Oregon Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran (he eulogized Hatfield on the Senate floor upon his passing in late 2011), ex-Rep. Elizabeth Furse, D-Ore., former Sens. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., and John Warner, R-Va., the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and President Bill Clinton.
Inouye, who toiled with Oregon’s longest-serving senator (30 years) on the Senate Appropriations Committee, revealed that he was so impressed by the then-chairman’s character, he crossed the aisle to contribute to Hatfield’s 1990 re-election campaign.
“He did not really believe in partisanship,” Inouye asserted.
To this day, Dancer says, left-leaning voters in hyper-liberal Portland continue to revere Hatfield’s penchant for putting sound policy above ideology. “They’ll say, ‘That’s the one Republican I voted for … because he stood on principle,’” Dancer said of the esteem in which Hatfield is still held back home.
All of which got Dancer et al. wondering: Could Hatfield make it in the modern political arena? Full story