A Family Affair

02.25.14

A Century Of Dingell?

Could retiring Michigan congressman John Dingell be replaced by his wife Debbie?

It's possible one Michigan congressional district could be represented by a Congressman with the last name "Dingell" for an entire century.

With Democrat John Dingell announcing his retirement from Congress yesterday after serving more than 58 years in office, it leaves a major void in politics of the Wolverine State. After all, Dingell had succeeded his father, John Dingell Sr. in Congress in a 1955 special election. John Sr. took office in 1933, which means that Michigan has had a Dingell on Capitol Hill since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated. Could the state survive without? 

Luckily, it won't have to worry about that as John Dingell's wife, Debbie, is expected to announce on Friday that she will be running for her husband's seat. Debbie Dingell is a former lobbyist, longtime DNC member and auto heiress who is nearly 30 years younger than her congressman husband. If she wins in the primary in the safe Democratic district, Debbie should be able to cruise to election and poised to serve the nine terms necessary to allow the Dingell family to achieve a full century on Capitol Hill.

While Debbie Dingell has long been rumored to be a potential candidate to succeed her husband, it's interesting that she's doing so given John's reasons for retirement. In an interview with the Detroit News yesterday, he said “I find serving in the House to be obnoxious. It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.”

If elected, Dingell won't be alone as a political dynast in the House of Representatives. First-term Massachusetts Democrat Joseph Kennedy III is the son of former Congressman Joe Kennedy II and grandson of Robert F. Kennedy while longtime New Jersey Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen not only has a father who served in Congress as well (former Rep. Peter Frelinghuysen R-NJ) but hails from a political dynasty that stretches all the way back to great-great-great-great grandfather Frederick Frelinghuysen who represented New Jersey in the Senate during the Washington adminstration.

In the meantime, if Debbie Dingell faces any challengers to the Dingell dynasty, they have until April 22 to file in Michigan's Democratic primary.