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Rep. Dingell on a “broken” nomination process and what it will take to defeat Trump

Debbie Dingell wearing a pink blazer and standing against a brick wall
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
“These smaller states have, I think, too big an impact on the presidential nominating system," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell.";

After a decisive victory at the Nevada caucuses over the weekend, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has emerged as the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. That’s after tying for the most votes in theIowa caucus and winning the New Hampshire primary.

These kinds of early wins are often key to generating the momentum a candidate needs to clinch the nomination. Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell thinks that’s a problem.

“I think the presidential nominating system is broken,” said Dingell, who represents Michigan’s 12th District.

The congresswoman was careful to say that she is not endorsing a candidate in Michigan’s Democratic primary, which takes place March 10. Her criticism of the nomination system is about process, not outcome. The outsize influence of early primary races, she told Stateside, means that there is a long list of states whose voters don’t get a fair say choosing the candidate. That needs to change, Dingell said.

“We have to have a fair system where every state has the opportunity to talk about the candidates, to witness candidates, have the momentum, the issues that matter to them, be an impact in this primary nominating system.”

Whoever ends up as the Democratic candidate, Dingell said, it’s essential that the party come together around that person. She believes that the tension between the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns helped elect Donald Trump in 2016. She also thinks that Democrats need to do a better job of showing voters that the party is working to find solutions to the issues that matter to them. 

Her constituents, Dingell said, are working class men and women who want to feel like there is someone looking out for them. They are concerned about job security, the impact of trade deals, and the cost of prescription drugs. Many of them, she said, don’t think Democrats care about those issues. 

“We’ve got to do a better job of talking to working men and women across this country,” she added.

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