Give credit to non-endorsed candidates

The DFL primaries present opportunities to support progressive candidates who were not endorsed by the party.

Abby Bar-Lev

Neither Ember Reichgott Junge, running in the 5th U.S. District, nor Becky Lourey, running for governor, received the DFL’s endorsement. Nonetheless, they should be taken seriously and supported in today’s primaries.

In the 5th Congressional District, Keith Ellison garnered the DFL’s endorsement. No doubt Ellison is an excellent, outspoken and worthy candidate. He is a passionate and progressive voice.

But there are other passionate and progressive voices running for the 5th District too, including one woman’s: Ember Reichgott Junge.

The former majority whip and assistant majority leader in the state Senate, Reichgott Junge has a strong record of working for progressive values in Minnesota, making strides on issues like human rights, education and preventing domestic violence. She is centering her campaign on universal health care, calling it a “personal” and not “political” issue. That is because in a short time span, Reichgott Junge lost four family members, experiencing the health care crisis firsthand and leading her to advocate for state-based universal health care. On the war in Iraq, Reichgott Junge supports a timetable for withdrawing troops, which is a more reasonable solution to ending the war than by immediately withdrawing troops.

In the governor’s primary, Becky Lourey, who is known for her passion and record on social justice, faces DFL-endorsed Attorney General Mike Hatch. Lourey is at a major cash disadvantage in her race. That sort of challenge has not stopped her before, however. In 1990, Lourey defeated a popular Republican incumbent for the Minnesota House. In 1996, she won a competitive DFL primary for state Senate, where she was re-elected in 2000 and 2002.

Lourey has said that she is running for governor to tackle challenges with “education, health care, transportation and renewable energy.” Telling of her conviction and dedication to rights, Lourey, who lost a son to the war in Iraq, was the only vote in the Senate (58-1) opposing a bill last year that banned picketing at military funerals and services. She is also making health care a major issue in her campaign and, among other facets of her Health Care Security Plan, Lourey supports establishing health care as a basic right in the state constitution. Lourey has been eager to discuss and debate the issues, but opponent Hatch has refused to do so.

The Democratic primaries this year pit smart, dedicated and progressive candidates against one another. Plus, the candidate who wins the primary in the liberal 5th District is expected not only to win in November, but to hold the seat potentially for decades. It is crucial that students have a say in who we see on that ballot less than two months from today.

The DFL endorsement is an important recognition, but it should not be the only deciding factor. Before you go to the polls, which are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, be sure to examine all the candidates.

Abby Bar-Lev welcomes comments at [email protected].