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Commentaries and editorials

A Dunn Deal: This State Will Miss Respected Congresswoman

by Vanessa Pierce / NEXT team
Seattle Times - February 4, 2004


U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn is done. This is the first lady who ran for GOP majority leadership (came in third), was considered for a Cabinet position, and is one of few women to serve on the prestigious House Ways and Means Committee. She even named her son, Reagan, after her favorite president.

She announced Jan. 30 that she will not seek a seventh term in office.

I feel like one of my political heroines has died.

And now the only women we can look upon for leadership as state representatives in the federal government are Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.

Wonderful! We are now left with Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee.

Here's a sample of Murray's witticism recorded in The Seattle Times on June, 19 1994:

"No one wants to take away jobs or diminish any industrial sector; it's in our collective interest to foster a strong, growing economy. With this in mind, we have to remember that salmon were here first. Everything that's happened since has affected the salmon; not vice versa."

And this one from the News Tribune on May 13, 1994:

"All of us our [sic] concerned about the impact on industry in the Northwest. But they all have a voice. Salmon don't talk."

And lastly, but definitely not least, she belted this out for the record and on the Congressional Record May 24, 1994:

"Mr. President, I vote on behalf of the salmon."

You would think salmon do have a voice by her comments otherwise how did she get elected? One thing is certain: She represents the salmon more than she has ever represented me.

The American Conservative Union (ACU) ranks our public servants on a scale of 1-100, 1 being extremely liberal and 100 being extremely conservative. The ACU gives Murray a 3, just like U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, a liberal zealot.

Murray has voted against the "Death Tax" repeal, partial-birth abortion ban, canceling of military base closings, malpractice reform, et. cetera, et. cetera.

Cantwell received a 13 from ACU she's just a regular liberal without the salmon passion.

But Jennifer Dunn is a woman with principle a woman all young women can look up to. Unlike Murray and Cantwell, she has stood by her beliefs but, at the same time, been a pragmatist.

ACU gave her a rating of 88, a number that shows she is a dedicated Republican, but knows how to take other's point of view into consideration.

For example, and although I don't agree with her on this topic, she is pro-choice. She has found how to balance the needs of all her constituents by the way she has voted on abortion issues. She has sought to keep federal money from funding abortion clinics, but at the same time worked to keep abortion legal. Though, even as a pro-choicer, she voted to ban partial-birth abortion last year, because she paid attention to the public on this topic and read the facts.

Murray and Cantwell you got it both voted no.

She also has supported environmental legislation, and refused the president's plea last April to open up the Alaskan wilderness for oil exploration.

The point is, even though I have not always agreed with her decisions, she has gained due respect based on her loyalty to both the Republican Party and to her constituents. She has played the perfect game and been a perfect example of those two little, but meaningful words: public servant.

And even in her retirement, she has left for the right reasons.

"It is time for me to move on," Dunn wrote in a letter to supporters. "While I never took a pledge on term limits, I do believe that our nation is better served if from time to time we senior members step aside to allow individuals with fresh ideas to challenge the status quo in Congress."

And newly married, she wants to spend more time with her family.

This woman, whom I saw walking the halls in the U.S. Capitol in her bright red suit, always made me proud. Yes, I got star-struck every time. And although I was never her constituent (missed her district by mere miles), she represented me more than she will ever know.


Vanessa Pierce is an '03 UW graduate
A Dunn Deal: This State Will Miss Respected Congresswoman
Seattle Times, February 4, 2004

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