If first-time candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 12th District are hoping that distancing themselves from politics will help boost their campaigns, Congressman John Dingell is banking on exactly the opposite.
Out of , Dingell is the only who has held office. And it’s his experience that he believes will carry him into his 30th term.
“I never thought ignorance or inexperience was a qualification for running for office,” Dingell said in an interview with Dearborn Patch, speaking about candidates who tout their lack of political backgrounds.
But other candidates say it's their fresh outtake that will carry them through the election.
"I don’t care about politics," Dearborn Republican and 12th District candidate Karen Jacobsen . "I care about fixing the big problems in this country before we go over the edge.”
Ann Arbor Democrat Daniel Marcin has gone so far as to name his campaign website to reflect the hopeful end of Dingell’s career as a legislator: www.No30thTerm.com.
“He’s been in office since before my parents were born,” Marcin said . “I think my ideas are more aligned with the people in the 12th District than his. I happen to think he has been there too long.”
Dingell disagrees, adding that he has no plans to retire. And though the anti-politics tactic worked well for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, “This is John Dingell,” the Dearborn Democrat said. “I do things my own way and I’ve been doing them for years and it always works."
Still, Dingell–who turns 86 on July 8–has been hitting the campaign trail hard. In the past month, he and wife Debbie been spotted at such events as a charity baseball game in Wyandotte, the kickoff for car show Cruisin’ Downriver, and a Barack Obama campaign rally with the Washtenaw County Democrats.
“Campaigning is fun,” he said. “I get around and see my friends and I thoroughly enjoy it.”
As for attacks against him on the 2012 campaign trail, he brushes them off.
“I’ve got more important things to do,” Dingell said. “I’ve got the business of representing people in Congress; I’ve got the problems my people have; I’ve got legislative chores I can do better than anybody else.”
He said the response he’s gotten from constituents while campaigning has confirmed that.
“People wave and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Dingell, for what you do,’” he said. “We’ve been helping and serving people for over 50 years here and I find the people of this district rather like it.”
Dingell pointed out that though his district has changed a number of times, he has previously represented every city but one in the new 12th District, at one time or another. Downriver leaders, he said, are especially happy to have him back, and offered to host a dinner for him.
Dingell’s reply: “Let’s wait until after the election.”