About John D. Dingell, Jr.

July 8, 1926 – February 7, 2019
The longest serving member of Congress in American History

My friend Howard Paster introduced me to his friend John Dingell at lunch at “Joe and Moe’s” restaurant (the restaurant has since closed) in Washington, DC and over time John Dingell and I became friends.

He was proceeded in Congress by his father John Dingell, Sr who served from March 4, 1933 to September 19, 1955. John Dingell, Jr served in Congress from December 13, 1955 to January 3, 2015. He was succeeded by Debbie Dingell, his spouse, who took office on January 3, 2015 and is currently serving her 3rd term.

While the outlines of the District they represent has changed, a Dingell has represented the District for 86 years. John Dingell, Jr. was the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 1981 to 1995 and from 2007 to 2009. He was the longest serving Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives and Dean of the Michigan congressional delegation.

He was one of the final two World War II veterans to have served in Congress. The other is Ralph Hall of Texas who also retired on January 3, 2015. At the time of his retirement he had served with 2,453 different U.S. Representatives.

Dingell served during the tenure of 11 Presidents of the United States: Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama.

The day he died, Dingell dictated some reflections to his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) at their home in Dearborn, Michigan. The following are the concluding paragraphs of what he dictated.

I’m immensely proud, and eternally grateful, for having had the opportunity to play a part in all of these efforts during my service in Congress. And it’s simply not possible for me to adequately repay the love that my friends, neighbors and family have given me and shown me during my public service and retirement.

But I would be remiss in not acknowledging the forgiveness and sweetness of the woman who has essentially supported me for almost 40 years: my wife, Deborah. And it is a source of great satisfaction to know that she is among the largest group of women to have ever served in the Congress (as she busily recruits more).

In my life and career, I have often heard it said that so-and-so has real power — as in, “the powerful Wile E. Coyote, chairman of the Capture the Road Runner Committee.”

It’s an expression that has always grated on me. In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power — in trust for the people who elected them. If they misuse or abuse that public trust, it is quite properly revoked (the quicker the better).

I never forgot the people who gave me the privilege of representing them. It was a lesson learned at home from my father and mother, and one I have tried to impart to the people I’ve served with and employed over the years.
As I prepare to leave this all behind, I now leave you in control of the greatest nation of mankind and pray God gives you the wisdom to understand the responsibility you hold in your hands.

May God bless you all, and may God bless America.

Even with the number of women in the lower house of Congress increasing dramatically after the 2018 election, the U.S., with 23.5% of the Congress being women, still ranks 75th on the list of percentage of women in the lower house of parliament. [Statista]

1. Rwanda 61.3%
4. Mexico 48.2%
7. Sweden 46.1%
10. South Africa 42.7%
11. Finland 42.0%
59. Canada 26.9%
75. United States 23.5%

A note: When is the last time that a new member of the House of Representatives, 29 years of age, became widely known by his or her initials, in less than a month after the 2019 House convened? That is the story of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is known by the press and others as A.O.C.

Approval of the Congress generally remains in the tank.

  Approve Disapprove
Real Clear Pol. 2/26/19 19.4% 70.0%
Real Clear Pol. 1/1/19 19.6% 69.3%
Real Clear Pol. 1/4/18 15.8% 72.6%

There has been discussion among some members of the House of Representatives that socialism (by one name or another) is a positive goal for this country. When asked about their feelings toward capitalism and socialism, 50% of Americans are positive about capitalism while only 18% are positive about socialism. Conversely, 52% are negative about socialism while only 19% are negative about capitalism. [NBC/WSJ 2/27/19]

[WW uses David Wasserman and the Cook Political Report for the House chart below.]

The House of Representatives


  • Democrats 235
  • Republicans 200
  Democrats Republicans
Safe in 2020 184 165
Likely 19 19
Lean 18 14
Tossup 16 4

The Senate

[WW uses Jennifer E. Duffy of the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections for the Senate chart below. 2/28/19]

In 2020, Republicans will be defending 22 seats while Democrats will be defending 12 seats.

The hill the Democrats must climb to take control of the Senate looks pretty steep at this point.

  • Republicans 53
  • Democrats 45
  • Independents 2
  Democrats Republicans Independent
Seats not up in 2020 33 31 2
Safe in 2020 10
Moore Capito
Likely 1
Lean 0 3
Toss Up 1