WXYZ Detroit - Today, June 7, 2013, BIG JOHN has reached a BIG MILESTONE! Michigan Congressman John D. Dingell, Jr. is unmatched in his length of service to the U.S. Congress. No one, living or dead, has been a member of that political institution longer.
He took over his late father's Detroit seat in December 1955 when the elder Dingell died unexpectedly. He has been elected to 29 full two-year terms and he has now surpassed the record-setting tenure of the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Dearborn's John Dingell is unquestionably "The Dean" of Capitol Hill.
Michiganders should take great pride in his longevity of service, and more importantly, his quality of service. His accomplishments in that rough world of political tug-of-war is legendary. From the passage of Medicare to numerous conservation bills, Dingell's signature is on a wide-range of historical legislation. But his greatest satisfaction is the day-to-day service he delivers to the people of his congressional district.
I've had the pleasure of knowing Dingell for more than 30 years and have lost count of how many interviews I've done with him. But I'll always remember my most recent conversation with him. It took place last week on Mackinac Island during the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual policy conference. Before, during, and after the interview, he thoughtfully reminisced about his life, his political career, his family, and some of his special friendships. It was vintage Dingell. He was completely relaxed and humble about the history-making record he was about to break.
The 6'3" man that now walks with the assistance of a cane, has served with 11 U.S. presidents. He has also cast more than 25,000 votes! Dingell supported the controversial Civil Rights Act of 1964 and introduced a national health care bill in every session of Congress he has served. He loves to hunt and he is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Dingell once chaired the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee with an iron fist. But he is also quick to drop you a handwritten note to thank you for meeting with him or doing an interview.
John Dingell is a proud Democrat who has always understood the importance of reaching across the political aisle to make friendships and legislation. He's been a staunch defender of Detroit's auto industry and a great asset in Washington for the television and radio broadcasting business.
Despite his longevity and popularity, there are some who don't love John Dingell. In fact, he will be the first to tell you he has his fair share of strong critics and that he has endured some political losses during his many years in office. Still, the 86 year-old gentleman who can be a lion or a lamb has no interest in retiring from Congress. He isn't the type of person who wants to sit back in his rocking chair and watch Capitol Hill from a distance. He loves his job and his mind is still sharp as a tack. It may take decades for someone else in Congress to outrun Michigan's political marathon man.
Click on the video to see my Mackinac Island interview with Dearborn Congressman John Dingell, Jr.