If you think the Kennedy dynasty seems to have lasted forever, that’s nothing compared to Michigan’s 12th congressional district, where Democratic Congressman John Dingell, Jr., 87, who succeeded his father in 1955 and is the longest serving Congressman in U.S. history, announced on Monday that he is stepping down.
Dingell is tacitly encouraging his wife, Debbie, 60, to replace him. He mentioned her when asked about his successor, saying “But if she runs — the lovely Deborah — I will vote for her.” The Washington Post now reports that Debbie Dingell will run to take her husband’s seat.
Dingell’s father, John Dingell Sr., served from 1933 to 1955. Ms. Dingell is seen as the prohibitive favorite for her husband’s seat, according to Lansing-based political consultant T.J. Bucholz, who said, “There are plenty of serving congressmen and women in this country who bring less to the table than Debbie Dingell does right now.”
Although Debbie Dingell is the chairwoman of the Wayne State University Board of Governors and a former president of the General Motors Foundation chair of the manufacturing Initiative of the American Automotive Policy Council, there are some who believe she is not a shoo-in. Bill Ballenger, associate editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter, said, “Though Debbie Dingell obviously has an incredible organizational base of support, she’s also made a lot of enemies. The idea that she’s going to be anointed, I tend to doubt that.”
Earlier in the day, Debbie Dingell would only say after her husband announced his retirement, “Today, it’s all about him.” Only two months remain for candidates to enter the race for the seat. Steve Mitchell, an East Lansing GOP political consultant and analyst, said, “His love for her is enormous, and by stepping down now, he’s able to solidify her future.”
Another candidate mentioned has been state Sen. Rebekah Warren, a “rising star” according to Ballenger. He added, “That will be the decision that everybody is looking for … If Rebekah Warren doesn’t run, the real question is: Who could beat her?” Warren herself had no comment except to say, “Today is about John Dingell.”