Entries in Michigan (66)


Rep. John Dingell Set to Break Record for Longest Congressional Tenure

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. John Dingell, who is serving his 30th term in the House of Representatives, is poised to break the record next week as the longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. Congress.

Next Friday, June 7, Dingell will eclipse the late Sen. Robert Byrd, having served 57 years, 177 days.

That's 20,996 days, to be exact.

Throughout his career, Dingell has served with 22 percent of all members who have ever served in the lower chamber -- 2,419 of 10,989 lawmakers -- casting more than 25,000 votes through 11 presidential administrations while attending 50 State of the Union addresses.

Dingell, 86, first took office on Dec. 13, 1955 at the age of 29 after winning a special election to replace his late father, John Dingell Sr., as the representative for Michigan's 15th Congressional District.

Dwight Eisenhower was serving his first term as president and had not yet signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. John F. Kennedy was still a U.S. senator and had not yet published his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Profiles in Courage." Barack Obama would not be born in Hawaii for almost six more years.

Dingell, who can be seen leisurely walking throughout the Capitol with the help of a wooden cane, often drives a motorized scooter with a vanity license plate that reads, "The Dean" to commute between the Capitol and his congressional office across the street.

Dingell has owned the title of Dean of the House of Representatives since 1995, given for the longest continuous service of a current member.

The Michigan Democrat, born July 8, 1926, is not the oldest member of Congress. That honor goes to Rep. Ralph Hall, who is about three years older than Dingell.

Rep. John Conyers, a fellow Michigan Democrat who has served alongside Dingell since his own election to the House in 1965, previously worked for Dingell as a legislative aide, crediting him as his mentor.

"It has been a privilege to serve alongside Congressman Dingell in representing Michigan, and I congratulate him on this momentous milestone," said Conyers, the second-longest current serving member of Congress. "Congressman Dingell's dedication to public service is unmatched, and he has had a distinguished career leading the fight to advance health care reforms and increase environmental protections. Both my father and Congressman Dingell's father were friends many years ago, and it has been an honor to call Congressman Dingell my friend over our time in Congress together."

Since the House is not in session next Friday, lawmakers will regroup June 13 for a bicameral, bipartisan celebration of Dingell in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Senator Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, Won’t Seek Another Term

Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, announced Thursday evening that he will not run for reelection in 2014.

Levin, 78, said the decision for him was “extremely difficult,” but he decided with his wife that he could do a better job as a senator without campaigning.

“We decided that I can best serve my state and nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us that I am in a position to help address,” Levin said. “In other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for reelection.”

Levin, the senior Senator from Michigan, was first elected into the Senate in 1978.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Michigan Veto Preserves 'Gun Free' Schools

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LANSING, Mich.) -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have invalidated "gun free" zones like those at schools and churches.

The law was passed by the state legislature in Michigan the day before the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting. It would have allowed individual schools to ban guns on their property, but Snyder vetoed it because of concerns that public schools did not retain enough power to keep guns off their campuses.

"While we must vigilantly protect the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, we also must ensure the right of designated public entities to exercise their best discretion in matters of safety and security," he said. "These public venues need clear legal authority to ban firearms on their premises if they see fit to do so."

But some state laws already permit individual school districts to allow concealed weapons on campus. The thinking is that law-abiding citizens with concealed weapons can deter and react to the person bent on destruction.

Four days after the deadly school shooting in Connecticut that left 20 children and six staff members dead, two Republican governors have spoken favorably of considering proposals to put guns in the hands of teachers and administrators.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry expressed support for allowing school districts to determine whether teachers can carry concealed handguns in class, which at least one Texas district already permits.

"In the state of Texas, if you go through the process, have been trained, and you are a handgun-licensed individual, you should be able to carry a gun anywhere in the state," Perry told the NE Tarrant County Tea Party Monday evening, according to ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth.

This is not the majority opinion in the United States, however. An ABC News-Washington Post poll conducted in the aftermath of the Friday shooting found that 54 percent of Americans favor stricter gun control laws in general and 59 percent support a ban specifically on high-capacity ammunition clips such as the ones used in Newtown.

But Perry and McDonnell are far from alone.

One Texas school district, the Harrold Independent School District, adopted a policy in 2007 allowing teachers to carry concealed handguns in schools. Almost 200 miles northwest of Dallas, Harrold is a small school district near the Texas-Oklahoma border that teaches 100 children K-12.

"We're a rural community," Harrold superintendent David Thweatt told ABC News in a phone interview. "We're in a county about a little smaller than the state of Rhode of island, so we're 30 minutes from law enforcement. Thirty minutes is an extremely long length of time."

Harrold implemented the "Guardian Plan," the district's policy that allows teachers to carry concealed handguns, after the 2006 shooting at an Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pa., which killed five young girls, and the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech that led to the death of 32 students and teachers.

"We were just concerned with trying to protect our kids, and there were enough shootings, as far as I was concerned, to develop this plan," Thweatt said.

In Perry's state of Texas, lawmakers in 2011 narrowly failed to pass legislation allowing permitted handgun owners to carry concealed guns on college campuses. But they are allowed in the statehouse.

Five states have provisions allowing concealed weapons on college campuses and 23 others allow individual schools to allow guns on college campuses.

Some proponents wouldn't stop at college campuses.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, a gun rights advocate who represents an east Texas district, said he wished that the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School had been armed when Adam Lanza opened fire on the young school children and teachers Friday morning.

"I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn't have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands. But she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids," Gohmert said on Fox News Sunday.

In Texas' Harrold Independent School District, The Guardian Plan consists of four components. An employee must obtain a concealed handgun license from the state of Texas, and the school board would approve them individually to carry in schools. The teachers must then go through extended training, and the ammunition used in the guns must be frangible, meaning it is made of small particles and breaks apart when it hits a hard object like wood or a plastic wall.

Harrold employs about 25 teachers and personnel, but superintendent Thweatt would not specify how many employees or which ones carry concealed weapons in the schools. Thweatt said many parents in his district support the concealed-handgun policy for teachers.

"Parents often cite that the reason they're bringing their kids to our schools is because we have better security for them," he said. "When you send your kids to school, you want them to come home to you."

In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Thweatt says more school districts in Texas have reached out to him for information about Harrold's concealed-handgun policy.

The Texas penal code prohibits weapons from being used in schools or educational institutions "unless, pursuant to written regulations or written authorization of the institution," language allows for school boards to determine whether teachers can carry handguns in schools.

Debbie Ratcliffe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, said the agency has not heard of other school districts' wishing to implement the same policy as Harrold but noted that the districts would not be required to report it to the agency.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michigan Governor Signs Right to Work Bill into Law

Office of Governor Rick Snyder(LANSING, Mich.) -- Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed a right-to-work bill limiting union power into law in his state, he announced in a press conference on Tuesday evening.

"I view this as an opportunity to stand up for Michigan's workers—to be pro-worker," Snyder said.

"I don't view this as anti-union at all … I believe this is pro-worker."

Earlier on Tuesday the GOP-controlled state house approved a law that would make the payment of union dues voluntary for private-sector unions and most public-sector unions (police and firefighters would be exempt.) The bill was approved by a vote of 58-51.

In anticipation of the vote, thousands of protesters descended on the statehouse as early as 5am on Tuesday. Later in the day, the demonstrations moved to the Romney building -- which is named after former Michigan Gov. George Romney (father of Mitt) -- where Snyder has an office.

There's symbolism in the location. During his tenure as governor, Romney signed the first bills in the state that gave collective bargaining rights to public-sector employees.

The protests continued on through the day on Tuesday, and by the afternoon riot police surrounded the Romney building in an effort to keep protesters out.

Michigan now becomes the 24th state to pass right-to-work legislation, but the passage of a such a law in union-heavy Michigan is particularly divisive in the state. Michigan is the birthplace of the powerful United Auto Workers organizatiom and union representation in Michigan is among the highest in the nation; roughly 17.5 percent of the state's labor force is unionized.

Although Snyder has signed the bill into law, it will still be possible to put it on the ballot in 2014, when Snyder is expected to run for re-election. The bill includes appropriations, which means that it will automatically become law if signed, but the state constitution allows for voters to invoke a referendum to "approve or reject" the law.

Opponents of the law will have 90 days after the legislature adjourns to gather eight percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial race, which were more than 3 million.

If they succeed, the law will be placed on the ballot and subject to a statewide vote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Compares Auto Industry Struggles in Michigan, Wisconsin

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(ROCHESTER, Mich.) --  In Mitt Romney’s home state, Paul Ryan held a rally Monday in front of one of his largest crowds on the campaign trail and tailored his remarks for the Michigan audience, comparing job losses in his home state of Wisconsin to the auto industry’s struggles in Michigan.

“We lost four auto factories in the area I represent in just the last four years,” Ryan said.  "We lost our plant, our GM plant in Janesville, our Chrysler Kenosha plant, we lost two Delphi plants in Oak Creek.  Trust me, I come from Detroit West.  We know we need a healthy auto sector.  I come from a GM town, and as we said in Janesville, we've always said -- as GM goes, so goes Janesville."  

"Well, we've all gotten knocked down.  We've seen some carnage in the auto sector," he continued.  "Know this: We want the strongest auto sector.  We lost 38,000 manufacturing jobs just in the last two months.  Over 10,000 of them came from auto.  The good news is if you put the right people in place and get the right policies in place, we can turn this around.”

At a fundraiser earlier Monday in Pontiac, Mich., Ryan first made the comments about the auto industry and thanked the donors who paid between $1,000 and $50,000 for “helping” to “communicate this to our fellow Michiganders and Wisconsinites.”

The Obama campaign sent out an aggressive response to Ryan’s comments, saying the “American people have come to expect stunning dishonesty from Congressman Ryan and Mitt Romney, but the truth is their policies would be devastating for middle class families.”

“Ryan told supporters that Romney knows we need a strong auto industry, but Romney would have just ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,'” Obama spokesman Danny Kanner said in a statement, referring to the controversial op-ed Romney wrote for the New York Times in November 2008 where he called for the Michigan auto industry to go through a “structured bankruptcy.”

The GOP vice presidential nominee told reporters on Monday that he thinks his ticket will take the state, adding, “I think we got a really good chance.”  However, polls have the president leading in Michigan and the Romney campaign is not running any television advertising in the state.

Ryan will be in Florida Tuesday for another intense day and a half of debate prep before he faces off against Joe Biden Thursday in the only vice presidential debate, hosted by ABC’s Martha Raddatz.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Bristles at Reporter's Question

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(ROCHESTER, Mich.) -- Congressman Paul Ryan had what appeared to be a testy exchange with a reporter from ABC News affiliate WJRT in Flint, Mich., Monday afternoon after being asked about gun control and tax cuts.

The reporter, Terry Camp, asked the GOP vice presidential candidate, “Does the country have a gun problem?”

Ryan noted that the Oak Creek Sikh shooting took place in his district but said instead of a gun problem the country “has a crime problem.”

Camp asked again, “Not a gun problem?”

“No,” Ryan answered. “I mean if you take a look at the gun laws we have, I don’t even think President Obama is proposing more gun laws. We have good, strong gun laws. We have to make sure…we enforce our laws. We have lots of laws that aren’t being properly enforced.”

Ryan then said the best way to “enforce these laws” and “prevent violent crime in the inner cities” is to “bring opportunity to the inner cities” and “teach people good discipline, good character.”

“That is civil society,” Ryan said. “That’s what charities and civic groups and churches do to help one another make sure that they can realize the value of one another.”

That’s when Camp said, “And you can do all that by cutting taxes? With a big tax cut?”

Ryan responded: “Those are your words, not mine.”

At that point Ryan’s press secretary Michael Steel was heard on the video saying to Camp, “Thank you very much, sir.” Ryan began to remove his microphone.

“That was kind of strange, you’re trying to stuff words in people’s mouths,” Ryan said.

“Well, I don’t know if it’s strange,” the reporter answered.

“Sounds like you’re trying to put answers to questions,” Ryan said.

The video was up on WJRT’s website, but was later taken down.

Democrats immediately jumped on the incident. DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse tweeted, “@woodhouseb: You can walk out of an interview if you don’t like a press question?  This is a game changer—way to be a leader Congressman Paul Ryan. ”

Ryan spokesperson, Brendan Buck responded in a statement that the interview had gone on too long and suggested that the reporter “embarrassed” himself.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


U-Haul Truck Carrying Biden Gear Stolen in Detroit

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- A U-Haul truck carrying equipment for Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign event in Detroit Monday was stolen this weekend, ABC News confirmed with United States Secret Service.

Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, told ABC News the truck carrying equipment was stolen between late Saturday night and early Sunday morning at the Westin Hotel in Detroit. He would not specify what kind of equipment was in the truck.

The stolen U-Haul truck was recovered in Detroit Monday, but some if its contents are missing. It was found outside an apartment near Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Donovan told ABC News.

“Some of our property was there, but not all,” Donovan said. “We are still assessing.”

Biden’s speech at the AFL-CIO Labor Day rally in downtown Detroit continued as planned without the equipment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney Makes Birth Certificate Reference

Alex Wong/Getty Images(COMMERCE, Mich.) – At a rally meant to highlight Mitt Romney’s hometown roots in Michigan, a joke delivered by the candidate seemed to make reference to suggestions that President Obama was not born in the United States.

“Now, I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born,” said Romney. “Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born in Harper Hospital.”

“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate,” said Romney. “They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”

Romney advisor Kevin Madden said in a statement Romney was referring to his upbringing, not the questions that have been raised by some about the president’s birthplace.

Both Obama and Romney have released their birth certificates.

“The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States,” said Madden. “He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised.”

But Obama’s campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt thinks otherwise, writing in a statement, “Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them. It’s one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John Edwards' Daughter Jumps Back into Politics

Steve Exum/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two months after standing steadfastly by her father John Edward’s side during his hugely-publicized campaign finance fraud trial, Cate Edwards is hopping back into the political arena to stand by Trevor Thomas, a young, openly gay candidate for the U.S. House from Michigan.

In her first endorsement of the 2012 election, Edwards wrote in an email to Thomas’ supporters that he is “exactly the kind of candidate we should be standing up to support.”

“Trevor is a member of our generation who we can count on to stand up for fairness, equality and opportunity for every generation,” Edwards, 30, said.

Thomas faces former circuit court judge and businessman Steve Pestka in Michigan’s Aug. 7 Democratic primary. The winner will battle first-term Rep. Justin Amash, who at age 30 was one of the youngest people ever elected to Congress in 2010.

During her dad’s White House bid in 2004, Edwards openly supported gay marriage despite her father’s opposition to it. She has stayed largely out of the spotlight since Edwards’ finance fraud case ended in a mistrial in May.

Read Edward’s full letter of endorsement here:

Dear Friend,

Aren’t you tired of hearing only partisan politics and bickering from the crowd in Washington?  It’s time for a change -- and we have a terrific opportunity to refocus our priorities on the American people in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District.

Three people are running for the seat, but only one candidate brings progressive values and a fresh perspective to the table.  That candidate is Trevor Thomas.

Trevor is an openly gay, pro-choice, pro-environment progressive who understands first-hand the unique challenges young Americans face today.  He is exactly the kind of candidate we should be standing up to support.

Trevor is leading the way on education issues such as keeping student loan interest rates low and putting an end to the bullying in our schools.

And he has a track record of standing up for those who most need a voice.  In the fight for the successful repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Trevor helped those who had been silenced by this discriminatory law tell their story to the world -- in many cases, for the first time.

Trevor is a member of our generation who we can count on to stand up for fairness, equality and opportunity for every generation.

But Trevor has a battle ahead of him.  He is up against an anti-choice Democrat and a tea party extremist.  These values do not represent the values of young people in West Michigan or across this country.

And there is not much time left.  With only 13 days left until the primary, it is more important than ever that Trevor get his progressive, pro-choice, pro-equality message out to voters in the 3rd District.

Join me in supporting Trevor Thomas -- a progressive candidate for our generation -- for the change we all so badly need. Click here to make an immediate donation to the Campaign for Us All.

Cate Edwards

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Scores Biggest Fundraising Day of Campaign in Michigan

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(TROY, Mich.) -- Mitt Romney landed his biggest fundraising day to date on Wednesday after holding two fundraisers in Michigan.

“It’s hard to write a check to a politician, it’s harder to get a friend to do it.  You guys have done that, thank you,” Romney told attendees at a fundraiser at a Marriott hotel in Troy, Mich., Wednesday evening.  “To each person who is here this evening, you have helped us break records, and that’s not just important from the standpoint of breaking records, its important because we recognize whats at stake.  I realize this is not about me.  You’re not giving a check to me, you’re not giving a check to the Republican party.  You’re concerned about America.  This is about our country.”

“Michigan has been great.  Tonight, and today we will exceed every single event that has been held for Governor Romney from the beginning of the campaign,” John Rakolta Jr., National Finance Co-Chair, said as he introduced Romney.  “We have set a new record tonight in terms of fundraising.  Only probably to be beat later this summer, so I’ll come back and see you again in the fall.”

Finance committee chairman Spencer Zwick predicted the day’s total would range between $6 million and $8 million for the two finance events.

Romney attended the fundraisers in Grand Rapids and Troy, just one day after completing his five-day, six-state bus tour.

A campaign spokesman said more than 500 tickets were sold at the Troy fundraiser and more than 300 people were in the ballroom for the main reception.  Tickets started at $2,500 for the main reception, $10,000 for a photo opportunity and $50,000 for dinner.

In the New York area last month, Romney raised $15 million over the span of three days.  Over the weekend, Romney will hold a retreat in Park City, Utah, with top donors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio