Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Byron Dorgan - Public Servant

A couple of years ago my wife and I were in the Minneapolis Airport on a Friday afternoon waiting for our flight to Fargo, ND to board when Senator Byran Dorgan and a number of staff persons entered the waiting area. They were on their way from Washington, DC back to North Dakota, and the Senator would be speaking at two critical public meetings in his home state over the week end.

One staff person was obviously checking over the senator's speeches and periodically calling something to the Senator's attention. Another staffer seemed to be working a folder of correspondence and also sought his attention. As I watched I noticed that many members of the public were also seeking the politician's attention. In every case Byron Dorgan gave priority to the conversation with the citizens over the staffers.

It was a clear indication of the attitude of a man who has been one of the most popular public servant of that state for almost forty years. The pattern continued after we boarded the plane. The Senator and his staff were seated in first class and were boarded first. As we peasants passed the first class seats the staffers were diligently working their work folders the Senator was greeting and talking with anyone who caught his eye.

Obviously he was more than chatting with us. After we were in the air and the "seat belt" sign went off I noticed that Mr Dorgan was sitting in Tourist just a couple of rows from me. He had switched places with someone whom he felt needed the space of a First Class seat more than he did. Truly a man of the people.

In the recent health care "debates" in Congress Senator Dorgan as well as all the Senators and Representatives of North Dakota and the adjacent districts in northeastern and northwestern Minnesota voted to oppose the funding of abortion with tax dollars. All these gentlemen are Democrats and in this, vote at least, they reflect the pro life majority of both liberals and conservatives in this part of the country.

His decision, yesterday, to retire after the end of his term seems to be thought out and consistent with his age (He's three years younger than me) and not brought on by any political threat on the horizon. The local press has been filled with anti life and anti health care letters criticizing him but I do not think these correlate with the position of the majority of voters in our region.

In my district the Republicans have often put forward candidates to oppose Colon Peterson, our pro life Representative, that tout themselves as being the "choice" candidates. It is unlikely this approach has a chance.

Give Senator Dorgan a "Thank You" for his pro life vote on the Nelson Amendment and for his years of public service. His Email link can be found at:

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