Longest-serving member of U.S. House responds to grad student trying to unseat him

The Takeaway

Daniel Marcin announced two weeks ago that he would attempt to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. John Dingell to rerpresent the 12th District of Michigan.

Marcin, a University of Michigan Ph.D. student, is attempting to unseat Dingell and prevent him from serving his 30th term in the U.S. House of Representatives — the longest tenure of any active member of Congress. But he’s not on the ballot yet. Dingell, who was first elected in 1955 and is the third longest-serving representative of all time, didn’t have much to say when Marcin first announced, but he’s speaking out now.

“At this particular time, I’m a candidate. He’s not. When he gets around to being a candidate, things come time to be discussed, we’ll address that,” Dingell said of his challenger’s claims that he has failed on key issues, including economics, same-sex marriage and environmental issues.

Dingell may have served for nearly 60 years, but he’s not ready to concede his district. He said he also won’t be — and isn’t — a do-nothing congressman.

“Well, there’s plenty to be done,” Dingell said. “Jobs. Opportunity. Getting the economy going. Seeing to it that the new health care bill is properly implemented and works for the benefit of the people. Dealing with the problems of my constituents. Seeing to it that the auto industry continues to prosper and grow, to provide jobs for our people and work on other jobs for our people. Clean up and make wholesome the environment, as I’ve been doing since I came to Congress. I’ve got a great record in that area. And we’ve got a lot of things we want to do, like protecting Social Security. Addressing the problem of balancing the budget, and seeing to it that Medicare is there, as is Social Security when the time comes.”

Marcin said the polarity and bipartisan arguments in Congress are a problem and that members spend more time arguing than getting things done. Dingell agreed this is a problem, but said he has a good record despite this. 

“I’ve gotten three major bills either through or they will pass within the next two weeks. A food safety bill, a pipeline safety bill, the deal with oil spills, and finally a major piece of legislation to make the pharmaceuticals safe. That’s three out of 106 bills that have passed, so I’ve got more than 3% of the legislation that I have sponsored that’s become law,” Dingell said.

But Dingell does not want things to stay the same, either. He too complained about gridlock in Congress.

“We have a lot of people in the Congress who have campaigned against making the Congress work. We have a lot of folk out there who say — who make members of Congress come to Washington say, ‘We will not let this happen, and so there will be no compromise.’ And the people have (have) to tell the Congress, ‘Look, we want you to work together. It’s too important to us, and this business of petty scuffles over peripheral matters is not the way to run a nation,'” Dingell said.

Dingell has represented Michigan’s 15th District since 2003, but because of redistricting, will be running in the 12th District in the upcoming primary.

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