ANN ARBOR, Mich. – “No one who knows me can imagine Debbie Dingell stuck at home,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) regarding campaigning for re-election during a pandemic.
Using virtual house parties and calls, Dingell has been interacting with voters across Michigan’s 12th congressional district, which she has represented since 2015.
Through email, Dingell said that people in the district need to be represented by someone who will fight for them regardless of where they live in the district. She said she has been working on issues that voters face even before she took office, and that she is proud of the work she has to show them.
Dingell said that she is more than talking points. “I’m about delivery. And delivery means bringing together the people who will actually get it done,” she said, adding that working in Congress means listening to everyone in the district.
She has recently attended rallies and demonstrations around Michigan to stand in solidarity with protestors against injustices they have faced. During the coronavirus pandemic, she worked to make sure that the University of Michigan and Michigan State University received CARES-Act funded awards for rapid response coronavirus research.
She said that she won’t back down from big fights, like Medicare for All, but that she will listen to the many beliefs held by district voters.
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Here is the full interview, which was conducted via email.
You have been the representative for MI-12 since 2015 but you’ve been involved with the district for much longer. What is an issue, or the issues, that you feel are most important to address right now?
There are so many critical issues that must be addressed in these uncertain times: Ensuring every American has access to quality healthcare, which means being able to see a doctor whenever they’re sick, regardless of income, and being able to afford their prescription drugs; fighting climate change by transitioning to 100% clean energy and safeguarding against damages to our environment like PFAS; giving American workers a level playing field so families can feel stable and secure during these increasingly uncertain economic times, which means ensuring we have access to good-paying jobs and a stable, American-based supply chain; and ensuring that every student in this country has access to the resources needed to attend 2-year college, trade school, or 4-year college without incurring the massive amount of debt that is currently saddling young adults.
You have had to campaign not only while working as the MI-12 Representative but also during a global pandemic. What have the challenges been while campaigning during this unprecedented time?
No one who knows me can imagine Debbie Dingell stuck at home. I’m usually at a dozen events a day across my district, and social distancing has been a challenge for me, but we’re finding new ways to connect. We’re doing virtual house parties, texting and calling voters, and doing our best to replicate a normal experience online, but it’s certainly been a challenge. Things won’t be normal for a while even though we can now go to outdoor farmers markets and protests in a socially distant, masked up way, and I am looking forward to the day where I don’t have to see my friends across the district in boxes on a screen and can give them a hug instead.
Why do you feel that it is important for you to continue representing the 12th congressional district?
The working men and women of this district need a seat at the table and a representative in Congress who will fight for their best interest, no matter which part of the district they live in. The 12th district deserves someone who will listen to them on any and every issue, and I've been working on these things since long before I was elected. I earned this seat by fighting for access to quality healthcare, protections for the environment, and other issues that matter to the district - the voters of the 12th give me a job interview every 2 years and I'm proud of the work I have to show them.
In a recent interview, your opponent for the MI-12 seat Solomon Rajput said that he felt that the district seat needed to be held by someone who was “unapologetically progressive.” Do you have any comments on that?
I’m the lead sponsor of Medicare for All in Congress - I’m unapologetically progressive, but I’m not just about talking points. I’m about delivery. And delivery means bringing together the people who will actually get it done. When you get elected, you don’t have the luxury of just talking to or represent the people who like you, so I won’t back down on important fights like Medicare for All or the goals of the Green New Deal, but I also know that being in Congress means hearing everyone in your district - and this district has a wide variety of political beliefs and priorities. There is a reason that the environmental community (Sierra Club, LCV, Clean Water Action, etc) is supporting my re-election, and it’s because I’m actually getting work done on these issues in Congress and delivering for the 12th district.
Dingell is running against Solomon Rajput for the MI-12 seat, which was held from 2012-2015 by Dingell’s late husband, former Rep. John Dingell Jr.
Learn more about Rep. Debbie Dingell and her campaign here.
All About Ann Arbor has also interviewed Solomon Rajput.