Junge at Heart

Ember Reichgott Junge: When does a compromiser become compromised?

Junge has also endorsed moderate people and positions that are at odds with her rhetoric during the current campaign. Most prominently, she served as the co-chair of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman's 2004 presidential campaign in Minnesota, at a time when Lieberman was already on record as supporting the war in Iraq. Lieberman, of course, remains one of President Bush's most loyal Democrat supporters of the war, and is facing a party revolt in his state primary.

On August 1, 2000, Junge was one of 73 people (and the only elected official in Minnesota besides State Senator Linda Scheid) to sign the Hyde Park Declaration put forth by the center-right Democratic Leadership Council. The purpose of the declaration was to set forth the DLC's "policy agenda for the next decade." Among the stated goals for 2010 were structural reforms in Social Security and Medicare, including a proposal to "Create Retirement Savings Accounts to enable low income Americans to save for their own retirement." During last year's dust-up over President Bush's proposal to reform (and privatize) Social Security, Republicans frequently cited the Hyde Park Declaration as proof of its bipartisan appeal.

Junge responds that she supported Lieberman's presidential bid because of their past work on education issues and because she found him to be a "man of integrity." She says she signed the Hyde Park Declaration because it "had some wonderful initiatives for investing in small businesses and economic development." She emphasizes that she does not now and has never supported the war in Iraq or retirement accounts for Social Security recipients.

But Junge clearly believes that her "moderate" positions are smart politics for the DFL and sound policy. In defending her support of Lieberman, she cites her backing for former U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt in the 1988 presidential race, and for Clinton and Gore in 1992, 1996, and 2000. "There is a constant theme there: I wanted to be with the candidate I thought had the best chance of winning, to keep a Democrat in the White House," she says. She justifies her signing of the Hyde Park Declaration in similar terms: "There were a number of things in it and I didn't support every one. But again, I was looking for a way for Democrats to win."

In a huge deliberative body like the U.S. House of Representatives, there will be numerous occasions when legislators must decide between compromising to get things done and standing on principle because something should not be done. Some of Junge's past stands and positions may be instructive for Fifth District voters in that regard.

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