Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 2, 2014

George Weeks: Focus on the Dingells, Dave Camp

Debbie Dingell, seeking to replace her husband, 30-term U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, who is retiring after 58 years with the longest tenure in congressional history, has a northern Michigan tie of sorts.

Before her career as an executive with General Motors and a political career that now includes chairing the Wayne State University Board of Governors and serving as Michigan’s Democratic National Committewoman, she was on the staff of Sen. Robert Griffin, R-Traverse City.

Matt Surrell, who was then on Griffin’s staff and later became a vice president at Northern Michigan University, called her “very professional … a joy to be around.”

John Dingell, now 87, succeeded his father in 1955. Prospects that Debbie Dingell, 60, will be the third family member to represent the district are high since it has a 66 percent Democratic base and she has an overwhelming lead over four other party prospects in a poll commissioned by and released last week by Inside Michigan Politics (IMP) newsletter.

She had 51.1 percent in the poll, which tallied 15.7 percent for runner-up state Sen Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor.

Susan J. Demas, IMP editor and publisher, said, “Without a drastic series of events, it’s difficult to see how any candidate catches up with Debbie Dingell. Mrs. Dingell has been a constant presence in the district for four decades, which this poll reflects, and she will be a prodigious fundraiser. But as the frontrunner, she also becomes the primary target for attacks.”

John Dingell was widely and justly cited as a champion of the auto industry. Also noted last week were kudos from the environmental community for efforts appreciated Up North.

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters said his “leadership in Congress yielded monumental environmental protection legislation such as the National Environmental Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act as well as establishment of conservation landmarks such as the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. Congressman Dingell’s legacy shines as the gold standard for elected officials to rally bipartisan support for policy that values and better protects Michigan’s natural resources.”

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