This is the third of a four part series introducing the candidates running for the 12th Congressional seat.
Growing the economy. Stronger environmental protections. Legalizing gay marriage.
Those three issues are what 25-year-old Daniel Marcin said separates him from U.S. Rep. John Dingell, who he is hoping to unseat in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary in the 12th Congressional district.
While Marcin supports the three issues, he said, Dingell's record suggests otherwise.
Dingell, who is seeking his 30th term in office at the age of 85, is the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives. If reelected, he would become the longest-serving member of Congress in June 2013, surpassing former West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, who died in 2010.
Marcin, who is pursing a PhD in economics at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, said it’s time for Dingell’s 57 years in office to come to an end. Fresh blood and new ideas are needed, he said.
“He’s been in office since before my parents were born,” Marcin said. “I think my ideas are more aligned with the people in the 12th District than his. I happen to think he has been there too long.”
So much so that Marcin’s campaign website is No30thTerm.com. The Ann Arbor man is the first Democrat to challenge Dingell in a decade.
“Why do you keep electing politicians when you could elect an economist?” Marcin said. “What is John Dingell going to do in his 30th term that he hasn’t done in his first 29?”
Marcin said he takes exception to Dingell’s claim of being “America’s watchdog.”
“Hearing him claim to be America’s watchdog, but looking at the terrible things that have happened in the last four years that any watchdog wouldn’t have let happen,” Marcin said. “The endless war, economic failures, all sorts of things, the foreclosure mess. I don’t think he’s doing a good job of being America’s watchdog.”
This is Marcin's first run for any political office. He said he doesn't buy into the adage of running locally and then working your way up the ladder.
"The laws I want to change and the issues I'm passionate about aren't decided at the state level," he said. "They're at the federal level and that's where I need to be to affect change."
While environmental protections top Marcin’s agenda, he said, there are many other issues he’s interested in tackling if elected. Reforming Congressional pay and rewriting the nation’s tax system are two, he said.
“I made $17,000 last year and had a 135-pagelong tax return,” Marcin said. “That’s ridiculous.”
Marcin said he’s enjoyed the campaign so far, especially getting out and meeting people while collecting signatures to get his name on the ballot.
“It’s been interesting,” he said. “A lot of people just don’t know where Dingell is on the issues. They assume that because he’s a Democrat, he must vote to support X, Y and Z. Then when I tell them where he stands on the issues, they’re surprised. … We’ve had this pretty pitiful economic recovery. Why would you choose to reelect a guy who was involved in that?”
Marcin received a Bachelor of Science degree in math and economics from the University of Maryland. While there, he participated in research on the health of Maryland’s wetlands.
He moved to Ann Arbor in 2008 to attend the University of Michigan where he received a Masters of Science degree in economics in 2010 and is now seeking his doctorate.
As education remains a priority for Marcin, he said the only employment he’s ever held have been part-time teaching assistant positions.
“Not having a full-time job in order to concentrate on being an economist is a good tradeoff, I think,” he said. “I can’t imagine too many other 25-years-olds having too extensive of work experiences.”
Marcin has long supported the labor movement and has held two union positions since moving to Michigan.
From 2010 to 2011, he served as treasurer of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT Local No. 3550. During that year, the union successfully negotiated a new three-year contract, averting a strike by the graduate employees for the first time in about 20 years.
Marcin also has been a trustee of the Huron Valley Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, since January 2011.
Both positions were on a volunteer basis, but Marcin said he collects a small honorarium for the AFL-CIO position. That money, he said, is donated to charity.
Born in Baltimore, Marcin was heavily involved in Boy Scouts and attained the rank of Eagle Scout, the club’s highest award. To earn that, he and some fellow Scouts refurbished a nature trail at a center for children in Maryland.
While the winner of the Democratic primary will face off against a Republican in the Nov. 6 general election, Marcin said he's convinced that whomever wins the Democratic primary will ultimately take the seat.
The is considered heavily Democratic, encompassing much of southeastern Wayne County, as well as parts of Washtenaw County, including Trenton, Wyandotte, Dearborn, Taylor, Bellville, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, among others.
"I don't know if the seat will never swing Republican, but for the near future, it will be a pretty safe Democratic seat," Marcin said.
Republicans and are trying to change that. Whoever wins their Republican primary will face off against the winner of the Democratic primary in November.