John Dingell's Retirement Won't Break His Family's Epic Hold on Its House Seat

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 25 2014 2:11 PM

John Dingell's Retirement Won't Break His Family's Hold on Its House Seat

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Debbie Dingell, wife of U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), 87, the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history, attends a luncheon where Dingell announced his retirement February 24, 2014 in Southgate, Michigan

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Retiring Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving congressman in the history of either chamber, may find the current state of play in the House "obnoxious," but that apparently isn't enough to deter his wife from running to succeed him. The Washington Post with the not-entirely unexpected scoop:

Democrat Debbie Dingell plans to run for the seat being vacated by her husband, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), two senior Democratic strategists on Capitol Hill familiar with her plans told Post Politics. ...
Debbie Dingell is an experienced Democratic strategist who currently serves as chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors. John Dingell has praised her as his closest confidant. "She’s been my guide, my counsel, my friend and my closest adviser," he recently told the Detroit News.
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Rep. Dingell is 87 years old and his age was seen as one reason why he is deciding to call it a career at the end of the current term. His wife, however, is nearly three decades younger than he is, and appears eager to pick up where her husband left off in Washington.

She is expected to make an official announcement by the end of the week, at which point she'll become the front-runner to fill a seat that has been held by someone with the last name of Dingell for the past 80 years. John Dingell was 29 years old when he first won his seat in Congress in 1955 after the death of his father, who had served the district since 1933. Assuming her name recognition carries her through the Democratic primary, as it likely will, Debbie Dingell would then be expected to sail to an easy victory this fall in a safely dark blue district where President Obama won 66 percent of the vote there in the past election.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.