Whitmer calls Dingell ‘one of our greatest leaders’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Derek Robertson

Updated, 11:00 p.m.

The passing Thursday of former U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Dearborn), the former Dean of the House, was marked by many political leaders in Michigan and beyond.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel standing with The Honorable John D. Dingell after presenting him with the Lincoln Medal at the Ford’s Theatre Annual Gala Washington, D.C. June 22, 2014. | DoD photo by Casper Manlangit, released

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called him “one of our greatest leaders” and ordered Michigan’s flags to be lowered in his honor.

“John Dingell will forever be remembered as ‘The Dean’ of Congress not simply for the length of his service, but for his unparalleled record of legislative accomplishments. The Congressman’s grit, humility and humor taught us all that we can disagree without being disagreeable, while still finding common ground and working together to get things done,” she said. The people of Michigan owe John Dingell so much. … We are a stronger, safer, healthier nation because of Congressman Dingell’s 59 years of service, and his work will continue to improve the lives of Michiganders for generations to come.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) called Dingell “true Michigan and American legend, the Dean of the House and my longtime friend. We have been incredibly lucky to have you and will miss you dearly.”

Debbie Stabenow | Susan J. Demas

Former President Barack Obama remembered Dingell’s role in the 2008 auto bailout that was critical for Michigan.

“Over the course of the longest congressional career in history, John led the charge on so much of the progress we take for granted today. He presided over the vote for Medicare — changing the lives of America’s seniors. He helped lead the fight for the Civil Rights Act — opening new doors for countless citizens. Ten years ago, in a moment of peril, he helped us rescue the American auto industry — saving the livelihoods of one million Americans,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) noted Dingell’s record, as well as his personal relationship with him.

“I have known John my entire life. He has been someone I looked up to, a dear colleague and a guiding voice for good. John will forever be a role model for those who seek a life of public service and helping others,” he said. “… John Dingell will forever be recognized as one of the most impactful and consequential leaders of our time. John lived every day of his life with clear moral purpose, incredible humor, a strong work ethic and an unwavering devotion to both Michigan and his family. John’s passing is an enormous loss to the nation.”

Former President Bill Clinton said on Twitter that he and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are “grateful to have worked with him & called him our friend.

Bill Clinton

“For nearly 60 years, John Dingell represented the people of Michigan with honor, integrity & great good humor. There are few major legislative triumphs since 1955 that he didn’t have a key hand in passing,” he added.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) called him “one of the greatest legislators in history.

“Today, we have lost a beloved pillar of the Congress and one of the greatest legislators in American history,” she said. “Every chapter of Chairman John Dingell’s life has been lived in service to our country, from his time as a House Page, to his service in the Army during World War II, to his almost six decades serving the people of Michigan in the U.S. Congress. John Dingell leaves a towering legacy of unshakable strength, boundless energy and transformative leadership.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden praised Dingell’s “moral courage and vision.

Joe Biden

“John Dingell was the Dean of the House. He earned that title — not just because he was there the longest — but because he led with great moral courage and vision. He was a friend and I will miss him terribly. Debbie is in my prayers,” he said.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that “Americans will long remember John for his humor, his wit, his keen intellect, his fearlessness, and his searing questioning of those he believed were jeopardizing the safety, health, and welfare of our people.”

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) called Dingell a mentor.

“John was a true statesman: he embodied the values, spirit, & dedication that all public servants should aspire to have. He was a mentor to me & countless others who sought to give back to their communities. I will never forget his wise counsel as I learned my way around Congress,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) called Dingell her “dear friend.

Haley Stevens

“The world has lost a giant: for justice, for healthcare, and for the advancement of American innovation,” she said on Twitter.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) recalled what Dingell told him when he arrived on Capitol Hill.

“When I got to Congress, John sat me down to give me advice: ‘You’re not important. It’s what you can now do to help others that’s important. If you never forget that, you’ll do fine,'” Deutch said on Twitter. “John never forgot, and he helped millions. A very fine life indeed.”

Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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