Who will succeed John Dingell now that the long-time legislator is finally retiring from Congress at the age of 87? The smart money is on Debbie Dingell, the congressman’s wife who is three decades younger.
If this happens it will continue the family’s eight-plus decade hold on the seat. John Dingell succeeded his father in 1956.
As Steve noted in his “feel good headline of the day,” Dingell let it be known that he finds “serving in the House to be obnoxious.” But perhaps not too obnoxious for his wife.
By Blue State standards, Dingell wasn’t all the left could have hoped for. He wasn’t all-in for gun control and, as befits a congressman from Michigan, was not a fan of auto emission standards. Debbie Dingall, who worked very closely with her husband, is believed to share Dingell’s views on these matters.
Does this make her vulnerable in a primary? The Hill thinks not:
Dingell allies point to John Dingell’s primary win against fellow Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Mich.) in 2002 as evidence that the Dingells could defeat more liberal opponents in the district. Dingell defeated the more liberal Rivers, who had the backing of EMILY’s List and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), by a comfortable margin after the two had their districts merged in redistricting that year.
“I would be surprised if anyone would run against her, to be honest with you. If she wants the seat, it’s hers to lose, as far as I’m concerned,” said [a] Michigan Democratic strategist.
If nominated, Debbie Dingell would be the heavy favorite to defeat any Republican in a district that went overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2012.
How should John Dingell be remembered? As a self-aggrandizing, publicity-seeking bully, I say. The Washington Post seems almost to agree. It writes:
In the 1980s, the prospect of a subpoena from his headline-grabbing investigative subcommittee was so terrifying that some Washington law firms built a specialty practice that the newspaper American Lawyer dubbed “the Dingell bar.”…
When Dingell took the helm of the Energy and Commerce Committee in 1981, he embarked on a campaign of empire building, extending its turf, often over the protests of other lawmakers. Its jurisdiction became the broadest of any panel in Congress, including not only energy but also health, the environment, telecommunications and consumer protection.
The National Journal once described the committee’s purview as “anything that moves, burns or is sold.”
Dingell also kept his committee members in line. When Rep. James Florio (D-N.J.), later New Jersey’s governor, persisted in battling for tougher Superfund waste-cleanup laws in the subcommittee that he chaired, Dingell simply abolished the subcommittee.
And this is the man who finds “serving in the House to be obnoxious.”