Rep. John Dingell is once again up for
re-election, seeking his 26th term in the U.S. House of
Representatives. At 77, Dingell (D-Dearborn) hopes to hold his
position as the longest-serving active member of the House. During
these years, Dingell has established a reputation for being a
conscientious public servant with a willingness to listen to
constituents before making critical policy decisions. His carefully
formulated decisions and open-minded approach to issues have made
him an attractive candidate for the last half century. This year,
voters should once again reward Dingell for his honorable service
to Michigan and return him to Washington.
Dingell is recognized as one of the most successful and
prominent leaders in Congress. Recently, the liberal women’s
group Emily’s List recognized Dingell as one of the most
powerful members of Congress. His stances on recent issues of
utmost importance to the country reflect his extensive government
experience and desire to create and sustain a fair and democratic
society for all its citizens.
Having once served as a park ranger, Dingell is well aware of
the importance of the environment and has been widely recognized
for his successes in championing its protection. Dingell has
authored numerous milestone environmental bills including the
“polluter pays” law that requires federal agencies to
prevent and clean up pollution. He also authored the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which shifted environmental
accountability back toward Washington by creating a federal Council
on Environmental Quality. The guidelines set out in NEPA served as
statutory blueprints for both national- and state-level
environmental regulation in the decades that followed.
Dingell has also distinguished himself with his balanced and
thoughtful view on the major issue of the last two years: the war
in Iraq. He voted against the war after reviewing the evidence the
administration presented him with. He recently defended his vote,
arguing, “I oppose their failure to deal frankly with people
about Iraq where they were not forthcoming on the cause of going in
there. They said there were ties to al-Qaida, which haven’t
been found, nor have the weapons of mass destruction been
Dingell has also been strong in his defense of civil liberties.
In 1964, he backed the signature Civil Rights Act of 1964 – a
move that almost cost him his job. Today, in the wake of Sept. 11,
Dingell has stood firm in defense of civil liberties, voting
against the Patriot Act.
While we endorse John Dingell, we do so with a few reservations.
Dingell has been a long-time supporter of Second Amendment rights
and has often taken positions that put him at odds with gun-control
advocates. While he voted for President Clinton’s assault
weapons ban, he made clear that he had no intent to support renewal
of the popular anti-crime measure. Support of the Second Amendment
does not legitimize opposition to a bill that prohibits dangerous
weapons with no valid civilian purposes.
Dingell’s race highlights a growing
national problem: The vast majority of representatives are running
with no viable opposition. Gerrymandering of federal districts
— arbitrary redistricting for partisan purposes — is to
blame. Two years ago, Michigan lost a congressional district, and
state Republicans forced Dingell into a heated primary with
then-U.S. Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Ann Arbor). Dingell’s new
district, which covers Ann Arbor, is reliably Democratic; after
winning in the 2002 primary, he has faced no serious opposition.
Politicians must be held accountable, and competitive elections are
an absolute necessity. Gerrymandering districts to insulate elected
officials from public pressure sidesteps the power of citizens over
In the end, that of choice has little bearing on our
conclusions: We feel that John Dingell deserves to be re-elected.
His past performance is a strong indication that he will once again
serve as an effective and principled advocate for the 15th District
of Michigan. We confidently endorse JOHN DINGELL for the U.S. House