Rep. Dale Kildee (D)
Elected: 1976, 17th term.
Born: Sept. 16, 1929, Flint .
Education: Sacred Heart Seminary, B.A. 1952, U. of MI, M.A. 1961, Rotary Fellow, U. of Peshawar, Pakistan.
Family: Married (Gayle); 3 children.
Elected office: MI House of Reps., 1964–74; MI Senate, 1974–75.
Professional Career: H.S. teacher, 1954–64.
The congressman from the 5th District is Dale Kildee, a Democrat first elected in 1976. Kildee grew up in Flint, the son of an autoworker. He studied for the priesthood, then taught at a Catholic high school in Detroit and at Flint Central High School. Door-to-door campaigning got him elected to a state legislative seat in 1964, at age 35, and enabled him to beat a 26-year veteran of the state Senate in 1974. Two years later, he ran successfully for the U.S. House seat. Kildee has an intensity of conviction derived from the liberal tradition lively in the American Catholic Church, a tradition with little regard for market economics, a strong sense of obligation to the needy, and a cultural conservatism. He is almost always pro-union and requires his employees to drive to work in cars built by the UAW. He opposes abortion rights and is something of a stickler on ethics. On the Education and Labor Committee, he is a strong ally of teachers’ unions, a backer of increased federal aid for education and an opponent of school choice.
|Dale Kildee (D)||221,841||(70%)||($559,948)|
|Matt Sawicki (R)||85,017||(27%)|
|Dale Kildee (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (73%), 2004 (67%), 2002 (92%), 2000 (61%), 1998 (56%), 1996 (59%), 1994 (51%), 1992 (54%), 1990 (68%), 1988 (76%), 1986 (80%), 1984 (93%), 1982 (75%), 1980 (93%), 1978 (77%), 1976 (70%)
Kildee was the first House member to argue that imported minivans should be subject not to the 2.5% tariff for cars but to the 25% tariff for trucks, which has been on the books since the early 1960s. The truck tariff has become a sticking point in U.S. negotiations with several countries, which led to Kildee’s fierce opposition to a bilateral trade deal with Thailand. He also was a strong opponent of free-trade agreements with Mexico and Central America. On the Resources Committee, he is strong advocate for American Indians, influenced by his grandparents’ friendships with Indians living on a reservation near their home in northern Michigan. His efforts to clean up the Great Lakes have produced commendations by environmentalists. Kildee has served more than two decades on the House board that oversees the page program. After Republican Rep. Mark Foley’s improper contacts with former pages came to light, Kildee, who took over as chairman in 2007, implemented reforms.
As chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education at Education and Labor, he has conducted extensive oversight of the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind education policy, while demanding adequate funding for its mandates on schools. He is a critic of government-paid vouchers for parents of private-school students. In 2007, he helped to enact an extension of the Head Start program, and successfully opposed a proposal that would have allowed faith-based organizations to hire teachers based on religion.
Kildee has been easily re-elected, except for a couple of tight races in the 1990s. In 2002, redistricting put him in the same heavily Democratic district as Bay City Democrat Jim Barcia, one of the more conservative Democrats in the House and, like Kildee, an opponent of abortion rights. Barcia opted to run for the state Senate rather than battle Kildee for the seat. As Kildee approached age 80, state Sen. John Gleason floated the idea of a primary challenge in 2008, but backed off just before the filing deadline.