Dan Lungren


Name Dan Lungren
Born September 22 1946
Birth Location Long Beach, California

Republican congressman and vice-chairperson of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC). Dan Lungren (1946– ) was the lone member of the CWRIC to dissent from the recommendation for monetary reparations for former Japanese American detainees. Lungren represented two different California districts in Congress and served two terms as California's attorney general, before an unsuccessful run for governor in 1998.

Daniel Edward Lungren was born in Long Beach, California, the son of a prominent surgeon was also Richard Nixon's personal physician. Raised in a devoutly Catholic family, Lungren attended a Catholic high school and graduated from Notre Dame University in 1968, as did his father and both of his brothers. He went on to law school, graduating from Georgetown Law School in 1971, having married Bobbi Kolls in 1969. He returned to California and first ran for Congress unsuccessfully in 1976, but won election in 1978 and served ten years. He earned a "near-perfect conservative rating for his voting record" and gained national attention for shepherding passage of immigration and crime bills.[1]

During his second term, the House of Representatives appointed him to the CWRIC, where he was the only sitting member of Congress on the commission and by far its youngest member. He was elected vice-chair by his colleagues and was the only member other than chair Joan Z. Bernstein to chair any of the hearings. Though he concurred with the findings of the commission, he was the lone member to dissent from its recommendations, due to his opposition to monetary reparations.

After the house had passed reparations legislation in 1987 and while the senate debated a companion bill, Lungren suggested to his senate colleagues that they pass a resolution apologizing for the incarceration, but with no provision for monetary reparations, angering much of the Japanese American community. At about that time, California Governor George Deukmejian had nominated Lungren for the vacant post of state treasurer. A coalition of Japanese American and Asian American organizations successfully blocked what most thought was his sure confirmation, illustrating the newfound political influence of Asian Americans and serving as a warning to others who might oppose reparations.[2] The legislation eventually passed the senate and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan as the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

After his rejection, Lungren regrouped and ran successfully for California state attorney general in 1990, winning reelection in 1994. In that office he burnished his national reputation and was viewed by many as a possible presidential candidate, often compared to Ronald Reagan.[3] However, he was defeated by Gray Davis in the 1998 gubernatorial election. He returned to Congress in 2004, representing the Sacramento area, winning reelection three times. He was narrowly defeated in 2012 by Democrat Ami Bera in a newly drawn district.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Maki, Mitchell T., Harry H.L. Kitano, and S. Megan Berthold. Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress. Forewords Robert T. Matsui and Roger Daniels. Urbana: Univeristy of Illinois Press, 1999.

Murray, Alice Yang. Historical Memories of the Japanese American Internment and the Struggle for Redress. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

O'Beirne, Kate. "Golden Boy." National Review, September 14, 1998, pp. 48–52.

Footnotes

  1. Kate O'Beirne, "Golden Boy," National Review, September 14, 1998, 50.
  2. His nomination bid was confirmed by the state assembly, but narrowly defeated in the senate. The California Supreme Court subsequently ruled that the rejection by just one body of the legislature was sufficient to deny his nomination. The treasurer position had been held for years by Jesse M. Unruh, who died in office. See Richard C. Paddock, and Mark Gladstone, "Lungren Vows Not to Retire from Politics, Hints at New Effort in 1990, Los Angeles Times, June 25, 1988, accessed on June 14, 2013 at http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-25/news/mn-5026_1_dan-lungren.
  3. O'Beirne, "Golden Boy." See also Matthew Rees, "A Worthy Successor Reagan?", Wall Street Journal, May 29, 1998, p. A14; Robert D. Novak, "Rising Stars," National Review, December 23, 1996, pp. 39–41.