st. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) — Former U.S. Senator David Durenberger, a Minnesota Republican who supported the progressive brand of politics and criticized the Republican Party after his political career, said Tuesday that his Died at the age of 88.
Durenberger’s health has deteriorated in recent months, said his longtime spokesperson Tom Horner. Horner told his Associated Press that Durrenberger died Tuesday morning of natural causes. He was at home in St. Paul surrounded by his family.
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Durenberger — former secretary to a Republican governor Harold Levander, former corporate lawyer, and former captain in the U.S. Army Reserve — won a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1978. He served his third term and championed health care reform. He pushed forward proposals to expand Medicare benefits, protect the rights of people with disabilities, including the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, and promote gender equality.
“Senator Dave Durenberger was a true civil servant,” Democratic Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said in a statement. Klobuchar, who holds her former seat in Durenberger, said he personally showed her a lot of kindness when she was first elected in 2006.
“He was a dedicated legislator, always guided by his bipartisanship and dedication to improving people’s lives,” Klobuchar said. “His work to advance the Americans with Disabilities Act and prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities has changed millions of lives for the better and made our country stronger.”
Dürenberger’s first wife, Judy, died of breast cancer in 1970, leaving him a widow with four sons. His son, Dave Durenberger, said he participated in sports days and remained an active father.
When he ran for election in the late 1970s, his sons helped stuff envelopes at the dining room table, attended parades, and helped campaign.
“He was like the North Star in terms of how we needed to live,” said Dave Durenberger.
Durenberger went through a difficult time in his personal life when he passed the Senate. He separated from his wife Penny in 1985. At the time, he openly discussed his personal afflictions with several reporters. In 1995, he married former staff member Susan Foote.
According to Dave Durenberger, his father has frequently attended his grandson’s schools and sporting events in recent years. Durenberger showed his family how to value people regardless of their social status, he said.
“He tried to find a goodness or common bond to share with everyone. Anyone could be his friend, whether it was the King of Jordan or a Jordanian immigrant driving a taxi.” said Dave Durrenberger.
But Senator Durenberger’s career took a downward turn in 1990. He was unanimously condemned by the Senate after an Ethics Commission investigation into the book royalties and federal reimbursements he received for his stay at a Minneapolis condo. In 1995, Durenberger also pleaded guilty to five counts of his misdemeanors related to condo payments.
“If there’s a stain on the U.S. Senate coat of arms, or the North Star as we call it our state, I’ll do my best to make them both shine,” Durrenberger told Senate colleagues. . his denunciation.
He decided not to run for re-election in 1994. After his retirement from politics, he worked on many initiatives focused on health policy. As chairman of the National Health Policy Institute at St. Thomas Opus College of Business, he addressed issues of systemic health care.
Durrenberger has become a critic as Republicans lean toward fiscal conservatives focused on cutting government programs. He said on the Minnesota Politics Podcast in 2005 that Democrats were “ready to make it through the day” when it came to health policy, but he said he wasn’t going to be a Democrat at the time.
In the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, he favored Democrats Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden over Donald Trump. And in 2018, he wrote a book with political reporter Lori He Stardevant titled When Republicans Were Progressive. It mourned the nearly extinct wing of the Republican Party, where lawmakers prided themselves on bipartisanship and sought to support the vulnerable.
A service will be held next week at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Durenberger’s alma mater, Horner said.
Groves reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.