Washington— Longtime education champion Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint, announced this afternoon he is retiring from Congress.
The 81-year-old congressman, first elected to the House in 1976, said in an interview with The Detroit News his wife, Gayle, had persuaded him to retire and spend more time with his three children and 10 grandchildren.
"It's time," he said.
"I've been here 35 years, and you hear an inner voice. I'm still in good health, but you get a feeling it's time for someone else to come in and make their contribution," he added.
His nephew Dan Kildee, a former Genesee County treasurer, is among those likely interested in the seat. The congressman said he isn't ready to endorse, but added, "I'm sure you can probably guess my leanings."
Kildee represents Michigan's largely Democratic 5th Congressional District, which is in the Saginaw Bay area of the Thumb.
The new 5th District still has strong dem leanings, although anything can happen in an open seat. There is a large farm club of potential candidates. Dan Kildee is Dale's nephew and has been rumored to want to replace his uncle. Jim Barcia's an ex-congressman who won a district similar to the the new 5th north of Flint. John and Deb Cherry, as well as John Gleason run well in the suburbs.
On the GOP side, John Kupiec gave Dale Kildee his toughest race since Kildee had part of North Oakland in his district. If there's a nasty primary on the dem side, this could get interesting. Woodrow Stanley is a state rep.....and a recalled mayor. Don Williamson resigned rather than face a recall. If those two try to make a comeback and win a primary, either of them can be beat. This district tends to range between 55%-62% dem, not the 80% like Carolyn Kilpatrick's district.
In short, I think the chances for an upset here will depend on the candidates. I wouldn't be surprised if there's an attempt by dem leaders to try and anoint a candidate (Dan Kildee? Cherry?), but that doesn't always work out the way it is expected.