U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.) announced Saturday morning that after 54 years of serving in Congress, he plans to continue his career with a reelection campaign to represent Michigan’s 15th district.
The announcement was made during the University of Michigan College Democrats’s fifth annual Pancake Breakfast at the Arbor Brewing Company in downtown Ann Arbor. The crowd at the packed restaurant included Ann Arbor Mayor John Heiftje, State Rep. Rebekah Warren (D–Ann Arbor) and State Rep. Pam Byrnes (D–Lyndon Township).
In his speech, Dingell — who is currently the longest serving member of the House of Representatives — said after talking with his wife and reflecting on past work, he decided he is not ready to stop pushing for the improvement and progression of the state of Michigan and the nation.
“I have given a great deal of thought and concern for the future of this district, this country, this state and my people,” Dingell said. “The lovely Deborah and I have spoken, and we have come to the conclusion that it is not the time for us to walk away.”
Fervent applause and boisterous cheers erupted from the audience following his announcement, as he continued his speech by outlining some of his plans and goals for his campaign and his term, if he’s reelected.
Dingell noted that he has witnessed many economic downturns in Michigan and the United States over the course of his lifetime, and that the current state of the economy is something that must be dealt with to prevent serious repercussions.
“As a boy I went through the Depression, and I’ve gone through a number of recessions, but I’ve never gone through a more difficult one since 1929 than this, and by the narrowest of margins we have missed again confronting the things we did in 1929,” Dingell said. “We have severe economic problems in the nation, in this district and in this state, and they have to be addressed.”
Dingell also said he wants to work toward education reform, environmental efforts — including the protection of Michigan’s Great Lakes — and health care reform, a cause he has been championing throughout his 54-year career.
“The fact is that we have problems in the state, where the governor is struggling with great difficulties with a recalcitrant group in the legislature, “ Dingell said. “We need to confront problems with the environment. We need to get a health insurance program passed for the benefit of these people. We have to move forward with the education of our people, with the protection of the environment, with the clean up and protection of our waters and again, to save the Great Lakes.”
Dingell said he will be looking for the support of Michigan citizens to help him in his campaign and to help him be a leader on these issues.
“I think it’s time for all hands on deck. As I said, no one should or can walk away from this, and I intend to be in the forefront of continuing these efforts,” Dingell said.
Dingell added that his campaign and his potential reelection will not only be beneficial for himself, but also his fellow Democrats, who are concerned about maintaining their stature in Congress and in the state.
“We have much more to do,” Dingell said. “And one of the things is going to be to run a great campaign to help some of the wonderful candidates that the Democrats are going to field to move this country forward, both in this Congressional district and state, federal and local levels, but also in other districts and in the state-wide offices that are going to be opening up this fall in the election.”
In an interview after Dingell’s announcement, State Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) said she is pleased to see Dingell running for reelection and is optimistic about the experience he will bring in helping to restore Michigan’s troubled economy.
“I think it’s a great thing for us,” Warren said. “I think in these challenging times, his breadth of experience and his focus on bringing jobs to Michigan and righting Michigan’s economy is so important, so I’m thrilled that he’s going back to Washington to keep fighting for us in the 15th Congressional District.”
LSA sophomore Brendan Campbell, the newly-elected chair of College Democrats, said he is excited to be able to work with Dingell, since he has admired his work as an influential politician in Michigan as well as in Washington.
“Congressman Dingell has been for over 50 years one of Southeast Michigan’s strongest and most forceful advocates in Washington, and we’re proud and excited to have him run for another term, and we’re excited to work with him again in November,” Campbell said.
LSA senior Samuel Marvin, former chair of the College Democrats, mirrored Campbell’s excitement and said he was honored that Dingell chose a College Democrats event as the stage for his announcement.
“We’re humbled that he would choose this location and this event to make the announcement, and we’re thrilled that he’s running for reelection,” Marvin said. “Hes been a terrific supporter of this organization, and so we’re thrilled that he would chose this audience, this time, to make the announcement.”
LSA senior Kalen Pruss, a member of the College Democrats, said she wasn’t surprised by his announcement due to Dingell’s extensive work in Michigan over the last few decades and said she is eager to see him extend his work in health care reform and other efforts that will benefit the state.
“It wasn’t unexpected because Dingell has served for a really long time,” Pruss said. “But you know hopefully he’ll continue to work hard to get us health care and (work) on the issues protecting his district.”
Sonya Suter, another College Democrats member and a senior in the School of Public Policy, said she is anticipating a good campaign for Dingell and that Dingell will continue to play a big role in helping to shape the state of Michigan.
“I think we all look forward to another great election campaign, and I think he’ll continue doing the great things as he has since the 1950s for the district,” Suter said.