John Dingell won a 26th term in Congress last night, retaining
his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives’ district that
includes Ann Arbor.
In a 72 to 26 percent victory last night, the Democrat easily
defeated Republican Dawn Reamer of Huron Township. Mike Eller of
the United States Taxpayers Party and Gregory Stempfle of the
Libertarian Party each received about 1 percent of the vote.
Dingell, who has been in office for 49 years, is the
longest-serving member of the current House of Representatives
– and the fourth longest-serving ever. The 77-year-old
Dingell is known on Capitol Hill as “the Duke” because
of his long tenure and powerful demeanor.
Dingell is a traditional Democrat on most issues — he is a
vocal opponent of the war in Iraq and voted against President
Bush’s tax cuts — but splits with the party in his
opposition to gun control laws.
He is also a supporter of the auto industry, saying he would
like to reduce the outsourcing of jobs, and he counts health care
as his top priority, he said.
Dingell applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last
year to uphold the University’s use of race-conscious
admissions in the Law School, and he spoke out against the Michigan
Civil Rights Initiative to end all considerations of race in the
state’s public sector.
Dingell has said he would like to end the No Child Left Behind
Act, a broad education initiative enacted by President Bush in 2002
to link school funding to standardized test results.
Dingell also has called on Bush to actively pursue peace in the
Two years ago, Dingell was not afforded the luxury of such an
easy victory. For the 2002 congressional election, Michigan
Republicans redrew the state’s district lines, forcing
Dingell to run against fellow Democrat Lynn Rivers, who now teaches
a political science course at the University.
In what became the most expensive primary race in Michigan
history, Dingell beat Rivers 59 to 41 percent. Dingell went on to
beat competitors from other parties in a clear victory in the
general election of November 2002.
This year, his seat in the House was not as hotly contested, and
most Ann Arbor voters expected an easy victory for him last night.
“I voted for him, and most of my friends did too,” said
LSA sophomore Alyssa Fetini, who is enrolled in Rivers’s
class. “I can’t really see him losing after almost a
half-century of winning.”
Dingell took over his father’s position as
Michigan’s 15th district representative when he died in 1955.
After 25 re-elections, Dingell has long held the support of his
district, which now includes parts of Wayne County, all of Monroe
County and the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas in Washtenaw
This year’s campaign was much different than his first.
Other than his district shifting and expanding, Dingell says that
he ran this year as a ranking member of the important Committee on
Energy and Commerce, whereas in the 1950s he ran “merely to
be seen, not heard.”
If he stays in the House until 2009, Dingell will become the
longest-serving House member in U.S. history. Last night, four
hours before knowing for certain whether he had won, he admitted
that it was a distinct possibility that he’ll stick it out
“If I can do it, I will. There are a lot of people who
have a say in what I do, the people and my wife being some of them.
And if the good Lord says come up here with me, then I guess I will
have to,” he said.