This guy should be the poster boy for terms limits. Such is the lust for perks and power this guy is well into his 80s and still sticking like a barnacle to Washington, DC. Finally he’s decided it’s time to go.
U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat who replaced his father in the House some 58 years ago and became one of the most powerful members of Congress ever, will step down after this year, capping a career umatched in its longevity and singular in its influence and sweep.
Dingell, 87, told the Free Press that he’d reached the decision to retire at the end of his current term — his 29th full one — rather than run for re-electon because it was time, given a list of achievements that any other member of Congress would envy, and his continued frustration over partisan gridlock.
It comes at a time when many members of both parties are moving toward the exits in both the House and Senate. Michigan and metro Detroit are not only losing Dingell but U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, a widely respected Democrat with 35 years’ experience, who announced his retirement last year.
For weeks, rumors had circulated that Dingell — who last June surpassed the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia as the longest-serving member of Congress ever — might be considering retirement. While clearly sharp mentally — he could be seen in recent months peppering witnesses with questions before his beloved Energy and Commerce Committee — time has taken its toll on his body, forcing him to use crutches or a wheelchair to get around.
But less than two weeks ago, his office seemed to put those rumors to rest with an e-mail to constituents in which Dingell vowed to fight on for extended unemployment benefits and “to protect the many workers and industries important to southeast Michigan.” In the e-mail, he said he would “continue to reiterate to my colleagues that the words ‘compromise’ and ‘conciliation’ should not be considered dirty words in Washington.”
The rash of retiring Democrats clearly signals the fact they have almost zero chance of retaking the Congress this November and they may be fortunate to cling to a Senate majority.