Debbie Dingell Breaks Down Michigan’s Primary

A Democratic stalwart assesses the “uncommitted” vote protesting President Biden, and says the party must do more to play up his accomplishments.

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Debbie Dingell Breaks Down Michigan’s Primary |

“The White House understands that they need to be reaching out more” to the Arab American community, Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan said.

Debbie Dingell is big on tough love.

“She’s very quiet,” President Biden joked recently as he campaigned with the Democratic congresswoman in Michigan, her home state. “Like, ‘Joe, get the hell over here quickly. Move.’”

For years, Dingell has sounded alarms when she detects peril for her party in Michigan, a critical battleground state. That was the case in 2016, when Donald Trump narrowly won it, and she was vocal again ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary, which was dominated by clashes over Biden’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

The issue is especially raw in Michigan, which is home to a significant Arab American community. On Tuesday, many Democrats vented their frustration by voting “uncommitted,” a warning signal that the fragile coalition Biden assembled to win in 2020 may be fraying. Overall, as of late Wednesday afternoon Biden had won 81.1 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary; the “uncommitted” effort drew 13.2 percent.

(My Times colleague Nate Cohn has a full breakdown of the Michigan vote in his newsletter, The Tilt.)

We debriefed Dingell to get her read on the results. She said that emotions were running incredibly high.

“I just talked to people who have lost numerous family members and parents or grandparents, aunts, uncles,” she said as she described the bombing in Gaza. “They have no food. At least five people have told me the stories that they’re drinking saltwater and they’re almost out of saltwater and there’s nothing. I mean, I cry. I don’t sleep some nights.”

“I also know that what Hamas did was a terrorist act,” Dingell added of the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel. “I’ve met with the families of the hostages. It’s horrific."

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