Debbie Dingell running to succeed husband

Photo by Bob Oliver Dearborn Mayor John O'Reilly Jr. (left) introduces Debbie Dingell to a crowd inside Panera Bread Restaurant Friday morning. Dingell publicly announced she is running for the 12th Congressional District seat being vacated by her husband, John Dingell. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of congress in U.S. history, announced last week that he would not be seeking re-election.

Photo by Bob Oliver
Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. (left) introduces Debbie Dingell to a crowd inside Panera Bread Restaurant Friday morning. Dingell publicly announced she is running for the 12th Congressional District seat being vacated by her husband, John Dingell. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of congress in U.S. history, announced last week that he would not be seeking re-election.

By BOB OLIVER

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — It turns out that area voters will not be casting their first ballot in 81 years without the name Dingell on it after all.

Debbie Dingell, 60, wife of outgoing U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn), announced today she we be running for his 12th District House seat.

She made the announcement at Panera Bread Restaurant, 22208 Michigan Ave.

“Yes, I am a candidate,” Dingell said. “That’s the answer to the question I’ve been getting a lot over the last couple of days, and if you know me, you know I believe in being direct.”

Dingell currently serves as chairwoman of the Wayne State University Board of Governors and is also an experienced Democratic strategist. She is also a former executive with General Motors.

“I’ve spent my entire career trying to make a difference outside of government, and now I want to bring that same commitment and experience to Congress,” Dingell said. “So I’m beginning one giant job interview with the people of the 12th District.”

She said she was proud of her husband’s career and his commitment to serving his constituents and nation and that she respected his wish to retire from Congress.

“Even if I weren’t married to him, I would have tried to talk John into running for another term,” Dingell said. “With Senator (Carl) Levin retiring, I believe we need the wisdom, experience and dedication John has brought to his job serving southeast Michigan every day for the last 58 years.”

Levin (D-Mich.) announced last spring that he would not seek re-election in November 2014. He has been in the Senate since 1979.

Dingell also said she wanted it to be clear that she was not running to replace her husband.

“I think he’s irreplaceable,” Dingell said. “I wouldn’t run if I didn’t think I could do a good job for my friends and neighbors and for the men and women of labor that I’ve worked side-by-side to fight for the jobs and businesses of Michigan.”

Dingell has until April 22 to submit 1,000 petition signatures from voters in the district to be placed on the Aug. 5 primary ballot. If she wins the primary, the general election is Nov. 4.

John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, announced last week that he would not be seeking re-election in the fall for the first time since 1957.

In his speech announcing his forthcoming retirement, Dingell called his wife his “dear friend and wise advisor, whose wisdom, goodness, and caring have made it possible to serve with compassion and skill.”

He added that she gave him strength and comfort in his service and when asked if he thought she was going to run to succeed him, Dingell replied that he didn’t know but that if she did she would have his vote because she would make a great member of Congress.

“She has been tireless, devoted, and worked just as hard, if not harder, for this district throughout the years,” Dingell said.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)