- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2002

Democratic Rep. John D. Dingell of Michigan is facing opposition from his own party leadership in his re-election bid this year.
Redistricting has forced Mr. Dingell, the longest-serving member of the House, to challenge another incumbent Democrat.
Mr. Dingell, a force in Washington who opposes his party on the issue of on gun control, faces four-term Democratic Rep. Lynn Rivers in the August primary.
Mrs. Rivers has the support of House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. In a contest for the Democratic whip position in the House two years ago, Mr. Dingell backed Mrs. Pelosi's opponent, Michigan Rep. David E. Bonior.
"You can already tell there are going to be some hurt feelings, whichever side wins," said Jason Brewer, spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party. He noted that Mr. Dingell's wife, Deborah, is a Democratic National Committee member. "The Dingells are pretty powerful in that party… There's potential for hostility to spill over after the primary."
Michigan is losing a congressional seat as the result of reapportionment after the 2000 census, and the Republican-dominated legislature redrew the boundaries to force Mr. Dingell and Mrs. Rivers into the same district. The redistricting plan was upheld by the state Supreme Court, but is being challenged in federal court.
"The proposed new district is a real dichotomy," said political analyst Craig Ruff in Lansing, Mich. "The district is Democratic, but there are two different types of Democrats blue collar versus upscale, university type. … You would hardly ever see these two populations mixing it up."
Mrs. Pelosi's support for Mrs. Rivers in the Aug. 6 primary has caused people in Michigan to be "quite taken aback," Mr. Ruff said.
"I would not think it particularly productive to … her influence over the Democratic caucus to weigh in on an intraparty battle in Michigan," Mr. Ruff said.
A Republican strategist said Mrs. Pelosi's support was surprising because, "leadership tends to stay out of these races for obvious reasons."
Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Mrs. Pelosi had supported Mrs. Rivers by donating money before the districts had been redrawn.
"She'd like to see both [incumbents] return to Congress. Her goal is for Democrats to take back the House," Mr. Daly said, adding that Mrs. Pelosi would obviously prefer if "a court decision comes down so that they can both run in different districts."
Mrs. Pelosi's political-action campaign gave $10,000 to Mrs. Rivers in September, before the Michigan district lines had been finalized, Mr. Daly said. Mrs. Pelosi's campaign also gave $2,000 to Mrs. Rivers in December, after the lines had been drawn, Mr. Daly said. Mr. Daly said that if Mr. Dingell requests money, Mrs. Pelosi would consider it.
Mrs. Rivers defended the support from Mrs. Pelosi.
"I think that there are women leaders all over the country that are supportive of my race," she said. "I've been here long enough to know that people support their friends whether they are in leadership or not."
The intraparty race has so strained loyalties that Roll Call recently reported Mr. Dingell would stop raising money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
"When you have a ranking member of Mr. Dingell's stature refusing to raise money for the DCCC, you have a problem," a Republican strategist said.
But Lon Johnson, Mr. Dingell's campaign manager, said Mr. Dingell attended an all-day fund-raiser for the DCCC on March 11, a DCCC dinner on March 12, a DCCC lunch on March 20 and has raised more than $1.5 million for House Democrats this election cycle alone.
"Congressman Dingell has always been and continues to be very helpful to the DCCC, and we're very appreciative of his efforts," said DCCC spokeswoman Kim Rubey.
A poll released Wednesday and conducted by the Feldman group for Emily's List, a feminist fund-raising organization, surveyed 600 likely Democratic primary voters. It shows Mr. Dingell leading Mrs. Rivers, 52 percent to 44 percent.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence united with the Million Mom March recently to endorse Mrs. Rivers, saying in a release that Mr. Dingell, "is a former NRA board member who consistently opposes reasonable gun measures."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide