As they sometimes say,  you don't know the players without a scorecard.  Here's part one of our series about who they are.

What do you really know about the candidates running to replace Doc Hastings when he retires from Congress?   With each passing week, it seems another candidate throws their hat into the ring.   The reason the race is so wide open is because  literally for two decades,  Doc was such a strong member of the House of Representatives he easily crushed his opponents in the primary and general elections.  He also served on numerous powerful committees, and one could argue he was one of the most influential members of the House.

But with this retirement,  his Congressional seat will perhaps be THE most wide-open race in the country, at least West of the Mississippi.   Currently, there are 14 "official" candidates who have publicly declared they are going to seek the position.   Obviously a lot can happen between now and the primaries and general elections.  But in our three part series, we will give a little backround, and links to obtain more information about each individual.  They are presented in no specific order, nor are they "sorted" due to familiarity.  We have included some links so you can learn even more about the 14 candidates.  Here's a look at five of them.  The rest will be detailed in Parts 2 and 3 of our series.

1) Mohammad Said -Democrat
   Dr. Said has previously run for Congress, for Senate in 2006, according to information submitted to the Washington State Secretary of State.   Dr. Said, according to his Facebook page, is a founder of the American Centrist Movement, and is an expert on Health Care and U.S.-Arab Muslim Relations.

2) Dan Newhouse-GOP   Mr. Newhouse is a former Washington State Agriculture Director, who was appointed to that position by former Governor Gregoire in 2009.  He served as a GOP (Republican) legislator from the 15th. District  (Yakima) from 2003-2009.  He resurfaced last fall during the November election, appearing in the anti-food labeling campaign commercials.

3) Josh Ramirez - Independent   One of several candidates on this list who are Independent, Ramirez hails from Pasco, in Tri-Cities.   Ramirez is a veteran, has a Masters Degree, and has worked at Hanford in several capacities. He is also on the adjunct faculty at CBC.   He is originally from Texas, and has been in Tri-Cities for many years.  He also has extensive business and planning development experience.

4) Clint Didier-Independent.  A former NFL Super Bowl winning tight end for the Washington Redskins, Didier grew up in Connell, and since his NFL retirement, has been very active in conservative politics.   Didier has previously run for the Senate in 2010, and Washington State Lands Commissioner in 2012.    He has been active in some TEA Party efforts, and during his previous campaigns was endorsed by Sarah Palin and Ron Paul.

5-Estakio Beltran- Democrat   One of the youngest candidates, Beltran grew up in Yakima,  excelled at  Davis High school, and graduated from Gonzaga University with a dual degree in Psychology and Communications.  He's interned in Washington D.C., and served as an assistant to Senator Maria Cantwell.  He also served as an assistant to California Congressman Dennis Cardoza, as a Senior Legislative and Child Welfare Policy Advisor.   He also has a Masters from Columbia University.

We will profile the rest of the candidates in two more series coming this week here on our website.  It's important to learn about who's running to fill one of the more prestigious seats in the House of Representatives.