Debbie Dingell, the wife of retiring congressman John Dingell of Michigan, is the front-runner to replace him in Congress next year. If she serves only nine terms, the seat will have been in the family’s hands for a full century by 2032. Dingell’s father represented the Dearborn-based district from 1932 to 1955, when his son took over for what will be just shy of a 60-year run.
Debbie Dingell, a former lobbyist for General Motors and chairwoman of the Wayne State University Board of Governors, is certainly qualified for the seat. But critics wonder if it should be handed down in perpetuity in the Dingell family like a family heirloom.
John Dingell certainly raised eyebrows with an interview on Monday with the Washington Post.
“We have a very peculiar, very special relationship,” he said. “I want that woman to be happy. I want her to enjoy all the things that mean something to her. I want her to be able to do the things that she wants and if she wants to run for Congress, I want her to do that.”
Incumbency already makes it very difficult to oust a sitting member of Congress. Given John Dingell’s fundraising contacts and clout it looks as if the family jewel of a congressional seat is going to be safely handed down. If it makes Debbie happy, so be it.