SOUTHGATE (AP) — Rep. John Dingell, who played a key role in some of the biggest liberal legislative victories of the past 60 years, said Monday that he won’t try to add to what is already the longest congressional career in history.
The Michigan Democrat, who was elected to his late father’s seat in 1955 and has held it ever since, announced his decision while addressing a chamber of commerce in Southgate, near Detroit. Afterward, he told reporters that he won’t run for a 30th full term because he couldn’t have lived up to his own standards.
“I don’t want people to be sorry for me. ... I don’t want to be going out feet-first and I don’t want to do less than an adequate job,” the 87-year-old Dingell said. During his speech, he also lamented how “rancorous” and “divided” Congress has become, saying that it’s not why he’s leaving, but that it’s time to “enjoy a little bit of peace and quiet.”
His 60-year-old wife might run for his seat
Dingell fueled speculation that his 60-year-old wife, Debbie Dingell, who was at the event, might run for his seat, saying she would have his vote if she does. She repeatedly deflected questions about whether she would run, saying she would only talk about her husband.
Dingell became the longest-serving member of Congress in history in June when he broke the record held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
As a congressional page, years before he took over his father’s seat, Dingell watched firsthand as President Franklin D. Roosevelt called on Congress to declare war on Japan in his “Day of Infamy” address.
Dingell said one of his most fulfilling, but also politically dangerous, moments came when he supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which eliminated unequal voter registration requirements and outlawed racial segregation in schools, workplaces and public areas.