Debbie Dingell, the wife of retiring Rep. John Dingell is expected to announce her candidacy Friday for the House seat her husband's family has held since the early 1930s.
The Michigan Democrat, who has been in the House for 59 years, announced his plans to step down on Monday. That night, his wife pulled together a conference call with her husband's aides to discuss continuing the family dynasty in Washington, Politico
"Everyone knows her, she knows the players, she knows how to get things done," Dearborn, Mich., Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. told The Washington Post.
Dingell's retirement "is a great loss for us," O'Reilly said. "No one knows more about the federal government than [John Dingell]. But she’s been exposed to all that.”
Debbie Dingell, 60, already has some powerful Washington voices on her side as well.
"Anyone who knows Debbie is dazzled by her intellect, her talent and her resolve to get the job done,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "For the many years I have known her, she has been not only a working partner to her husband, the dean of the House, but a strong champion for the people of the state of Michigan."
She will also have several advantages over challengers for her husband's seat. She has access to her husband's campaign coffers, a network of political backers and the backing of her husband.
Retiring Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin — whose seat Dingell has considered seeking in past election cycles — has also already given his support to her plans to continue her husband's family's name in Washington.
“She’d be a fabulous congresswoman, but those are such personal decisions,” Levin told Politico. "She would be a very, very strong candidate. She’d be a really wonderful congresswoman, too.”
To appear on the Aug. 5 ballot, Dingell must collect 1,000 signatures by April 22. There are other potential candidates in the race, with state Sens. Rebekah Warren and Hoon-Yung Hopgood being mentioned as possibilities.
But the power Dingell has amassed over the years on the national and state levels may not translate to an automatic win, as she and her husband have proven to be polarizing forces in the party for some time. He has faced criticism over the years about his family's hold on the seat, and not all Democrats appreciate how she has made her own name powerful in business and political circles.
Debbie Dingell, 60, serves as chairwoman of the Wayne State University Board of Governors and has been one of the state's representatives on the Democratic National Committee for years.
She also has close ties with Michigan's auto industry. Her maternal grandfather and his brothers were the founders of Fisher Body, which General Motors bought in 1926. She served in executive roles with GM for more than 30 years, leaving in 2009 as vice chairman of the General Motors Foundation and executive director of public affairs and community relations for GM.
She later founded the consulting firm, D2 Strategies, and remains on the American Automotive Policy Council, leading the manufacturing arm of the Big Three-backed trade group.
John Dingell, 87, has been in the U.S. House since winning his late father's seat in 1955. The elder Dingell was elected to Congress in 1932.
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