In the race for Michigan’s 15th district for the U.S. House of Representatives, voting for incumbent Democrat John Dingell is a no-brainer. Unchallenged by any Republican candidate, Dingell faces only third-party opponents, most notably Green Party candidate Aimee Smith.

Sarah Royce

Smith very well may be a solid candidate, but with Dingell’s record and seniority in the House, there is little reason not to vote for him.

Dingell has a solid record in the House. Usually voting with the Democratic Party, he has earned a laundry list of endorsements, from the Sierra Club and the AFL-CIO to Esquire magazine. Dingell’s position gives him sway on issues affecting the Big Three automakers, but it is unfortunate that looking out for Motown can also mean opposing higher fuel economy standards, which Dingell has done in the past. Though he may be more inclined to take a pro-gun rights stance than his Democratic peers, positions such as his opposition to the war in Iraq and cutting the estate tax, as well as his support for the environment and stem cell research, outweigh his more questionable views.

The issues aside, Dingell’s seniority – with the longest tenure of any member in the House today – is more than enough reason to vote for him. Seniority carries a good deal of weight in Congress. The longest-serving members get the plum committee assignments, with the power to set agendas and hold significant leverage to make policies that benefit their constituents. Dingell is currently the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee and could very well become the committee’s chair if the Democrats win control of the House on Nov. 7.

Of the third-party candidates challenging Dingell, Smith’s platform certainly may appeal to voters turned off by both major parties. She stands firm on protecting civil liberties and has made priorities of fighting global warming and providing universal health care. And as a member of the underdog Green Party, she would not be beholden to the party line in the same way Democrats often are. But Smith lacks experience on the national level and has never held public office, raising doubts that she would be able to represent the district as well as Dingell, who has decades of experience and seniority that Smith does not. The candidates from the Libertarian and U.S. Taxpayers parties similarly have had no experience in elected office at any level.

Because of the gerrymandering of congressional districts in Michigan, unseating Dingell would be just short of impossible, even for a Republican. Because of his solid record and high spot on the House totem pole, Dingell is the clear choice, and likely would be even if his challenger were more qualified. The Daily endorses JOHN DINGELL for Michigan’s 15th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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