Though Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.) has announced his retirement, it’s possible that his constituents will still be served by a Dingell.

On Feb. 28, Deborah Dingell, John Dingell’s wife, spoke to a group of about 40 supporters at the Ann Arbor Downtown Home and Garden as part of a three-stop tour to officially announce her campaign for her husband’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

She delivered remarks in Dearborn earlier in the day and in Ypsilanti later in the afternoon.

John Dingell, who is currently the longest-serving member of Congress–having been first elected nearly 60 years ago– announced on Feb. 24 that he would be retiring at the end of his current term. He represents Michigan’s 12th Congressional District district, which includes Ann Arbor.

In her speech, Debbie Dingell identified several policy priorities, including fair trade agreements, equal opportunity measures and the protection of welfare benefits from cuts. In response to questions after the speech, she also identified education as a top priority.

Dingell, who is currently the chair of Wayne State University’s Board of Governors, said though she has mostly been focused on education needs for early childhood in the past few years, she is also concerned about disinvestment in higher education.

“I believe, as strongly as a person could, that every student that wants to go to college or a university needs to be able to go, and needs to be able to afford it without this massive debt,” Dingell said. “We’ve got to find a way that we are going to invest in higher ed again.”

Dingell added that during the campaign, what will be important for her is listening to and connecting with residents in the district.

“I need to hear from you,” Dingell said. “I’m asking for your support. Let’s go out there and stay together and fight for Michigan.”

LSA junior Ahmad Jawad, who attended the event, said he came to support the community and Dingell’s campaign for the House seat.

“Her history and the things she’s offered to the community over time, I believe there’s no better person for the job to replace her husband than her,” Jawad said.

Dingell is currently running uncontested in both the Democratic primary and general election, but more candidates are expected to announce their entry into the race soon.

Also on Friday, State Sen. Rebekah Warren (D–Ann Arbor) announced the formation of a congressional exploratory committee in an interview with WEMU-89.1, the NPR affiliate of Eastern Michigan University. The formation of the committee does not represent an official entry into the race.

“The work that I need to do is to first make sure that it’s the right thing for the people that I want to represent, and the work that I want to do with them and on their behalf, “ Warren told WEMU. “And until I make that decision, I can’t move forward.”

Warren is currently a declared candidate for reelection to her seat in the state Senate.

From the other side of the aisle, Ypsilanti resident Terry Bowman, founder and president of Union Conservatives, is expected to announce that he will be running for the seat as well. Union Conservatives is a non-profit organization that aims to inform union members about conservative positions.

Bowman was influential in passing Michigan’s right-to-work legislation in late 2012.

All potential partisan candidates have until April 22 to collect at least 1,000 signatures in order to be on the November 2014 ballot.

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