By J. PATRICK PEPPER
DEARBORN — With the filing deadline for candidates still months away, several political hopefuls already are entering campaign mode.
U.S. Reps. John Dingell Jr. (D-Dearborn) and John Conyers Jr. (D-Detroit), the current top two longest-serving members of the U.S. House of Representatives, both recently announced that they would seek to retain their seats in the upcoming 2010 midterm elections.
Dingell represents Michigan’s 15th Congressional District, which includes portions of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights mostly west of Pelham. Conyers represents Michigan’s 14th District, which also includes portions of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, although mostly east of Pelham.
Speaking to a group of student Democrats in Ann Arbor, Dingell, 83, said he decided to run again because the country will need experienced leadership at a time when so many important issues – from health care and financial reforms to climate change and job creating measures – are up for legislation.
“These are challenges this nation must confront,” he said in published reports. “I think it is time for all hands on deck.”
Dingell first won office at age 26 in a 1955 special election to replace his father, John Dingell Sr., who died in office. The Polish lawyer by training has maintained an electoral hammerlock on various portions of western Wayne, Washtenaw, and Monroe counties since, riding double-digit margins victories to 27 consecutive terms.
Meanwhile, Conyers, 80, will look to win his 23rd two-year term. Conyers’ announcement came at a jobs workshop in Detroit put on by the 14th District Democratic Party.
The civil rights icon has been in office since 1965 and counts among his influence channels his role as a founding member of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus, as well as his current chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.
As of press time, no challengers had filed paperwork to challenge Dingell or Conyers.
At the state level, two more Democratic candidates have joined the race for the 15th District House seat currently held by Gino Polidori (D-Dearborn). Polidori cannot seek re-election because of term limits.
City Councilman George Darany and local business owner and political operative Hope Buxton will face off in an August primary against fellow Democrat Linda Tafelski for a seat that historically has been won by a Democrat in the general election.
Darany enters the race just four months after his last campaign effort, which resulted in his first elective victory. In November, Darany was the third-highest vote getter in the council elections, behind only Council President Thomas Tafelski and longtime Councilwoman Suzanne Sareini, who is said to be considering a run for the seat as a Republican.
Darany, 53, in a news release cited his three years as a council member – he was the eighth-place finisher in 2005, but was moved onto council when then-Council President John O’Reilly Jr. became mayor – and his involvement in several civic organizations as his strengths.
“I’m running because Dearborn needs a voice in Lansing that understands all of its needs, and my background and experience will help me be that voice,” Darany said. “Business, education, government and community concerns must all be addressed.”
Buxton, 66, is making her first appearance on a ballot after decades of working to get other candidates elected. She has been the campaign manager for Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. dating to his council runs in the 1980s and has worked on the campaigns of several Democrats at the national level, including Dingell and former President Bill Clinton.
For the last seven years, Buxton has owned and operated the Dearborn Towers Hair Salon. She said she decided to run because of growing concerns about the community.
“I’m worried about jobs. I see the empty buildings. What I’d like to see is Dearborn moving forward and I don’t see that right now,” Buxton said.