SOUTHGATE, Mich. (AP) — Rep. John Dingell, who played a key role in some of the biggest liberal legislative victories of the past 60 years, said today that he will not try to add to what is already the longest congressional career in history.
The Michigan Democrat, who was elected to his late father's seat in 1955 and has held it ever since, announced his decision while addressing a chamber of commerce in Southgate, near Detroit. Afterward, he told reporters that he will not run for a 30th full term because he could not have lived up to his own standards.
"I don't want people to be sorry for me. ... I don't want to be going out feet-first and I don't want to do less than an adequate job," said the 87-year-old Dingell, who cut a physically imposing figure in his prime but now uses a cane or motorized cart to get around the Capitol.
He fueled speculation that his 60-year-old wife, Debbie Dingell, who was at the event, might run for his seat, saying she would have his vote if she does. She repeatedly deflected questions about whether she would run, saying she would only talk about her husband.
After winning a special election for his father's seat in 1955, Dingell gradually acquired seniority and clout, eventually becoming chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and earning a reputation for being one of Washington's sharpest government watchdogs.