Watch live: Michigan GOP hopefuls for governor set to spar Wednesday night

Ex-Rep. John Dingell still truckin’ as he nears 90

Detroit News staff

Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, turns 90 on Friday, but he hasn't yet produced a Twitter hash tag for the occasion, even after asking for suggestions.

The longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history was feted Wednesday with an early birthday party at the Capitol complex’s Rayburn House Office Building that was organized by the Michigan State Society of Washington, D.C.

Dingell’s wife, Debbie, who succeeded him in Congress in 2015, collected happy birthday videos from her husband’s former colleagues and constituents.

“Hey, John, happy birthday,” Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, said in a video that was tweeted by Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn.

He credited Dingell with teaching him the importance of working across the aisle to accomplish things in Congress.

“We can do a lot when we work together,” Upton said, “and that has been my motto all the years that I’ve been chairman.”

Upton said he and Dingell could always agree on their support for the athletic teams at the University of Michigan, even if they could not always get together on some legislation.

“It was always better to be with you than against you, that’s for sure,” said Michigan’s senior congressional delegation member, who chairs the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Though the Dearborn Democrat didn’t tweet out a birthday hash tag, here’s one the Insider considered appropriate based on one of Big John’s nicknames: #StillTruckin’

Chaos in Virgin Islands

A scathing report recently sent to the Republican National Committee rules in favor of veteran Michigan GOP political operative JohnYob’s bid to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands at next month’s national convention while issuing blistering criticism of the “abhorrent behavior” surrounding a months-long delegate fight.

Grand Rapids native Yob, his wife, Erica, and three of their allies in the U.S. territory should be seated as delegates at the July 18-21 GOP national convention in Cleveland, the RNC’s Committee on Contests ruled last week.

The RNC’s Committee on Contests ruled in favor of Yob and his slate of delegates, rejecting a challenge to their qualifications by U.S. Virgin Islands Republican Party Chairman John Canegata.

Yob’s battle for delegate seats was entangled in his longstanding feud with former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, who has done fundraising work for Canegata.

Northern Michigan Republican operative Dennis Lennox, a close ally to Anuzis, moved to the Virgin Islands this winter to seemingly get involved in battling Yob at Canegata’s behest.

Doyle Webb, chairman of the committee and head of the Republican Party of Arkansas, was especially critical of Canegata in a nine-page report published Thursday.

“As became obvious in reading the parties’ venom-full submissions to this committee, this contest arises out of the months of contentious, unprofessional infighting that has been going on between some in the Virgin Islands party’s leadership, including its chairman, and certain contestants,” Webb wrote.

Webb appeared especially irked that Canegata and Yob each sat for interviews on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” a satirical news program that lambasted the Caribbean kerfuffle in a territory where votes don’t count in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

“This is no laughing matter,” Webb wrote. “The soap opera is a blight on the U.S. Virgin Islands Republican Party. This continual mischief from the Virgin Islands must end, immediately — starting at the top of the party.”

Canegata has vowed to appeal the committee’s ruling at next week’s Republican National Committee summer meeting.

Yob’s power struggle with Canegata triggered court intervention, insult-hurling in the media and a raucous party meeting that nearly came to blows between members of Yob’s faction and Lennox, who helped Canegata run the meeting. Lennox is now executive director of the U.S. Virgin Islands Republican Party, Canegata said.

During the spring, Anuzis worked for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign to corral delegates when the GOP nomination appeared headed for a contested convention.

Canegata and others in the Virgin Islands labeled Yob a “carpetbagger” seeking to hijack the territory’s tiny delegation for political and business purposes, The Detroit News reported April 19.

Yob had published a book this winter predicting “chaos” at the Cleveland convention and spelling out how delegations from territories could play a critical role in deciding the nominee.

Webb’s report ended with another statement of the Contest Committee’s “displeasure with the abhorrent behavior in recent months of some individuals within the Virgin Islands Party’s leadership.”

Judge runs for high court

Wayne County Circuit Judge Deborah Thomas is running for the Michigan Supreme Court for a second time, she announced this week.

Thomas, nominated by Michigan Democrats in 2014, lost by 33 percentage points to Justice David Viviano of Macomb County, who was appointed to the bench by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013.

Viviano is now running for a full eight-year term, and fellow Snyder appointee Justice Joan Larsen is expected to run to finish the term she inherited.

Thomas is hoping Democrats will again nominate her this fall to challenge one of the incumbents and “bring greater balance” to a seven-member court with five Republicans. Democrats select their court candidates at the state party convention.

The court needs to play a watchdog role to hold accountable other branches of government, Thomas said in a release.

“Look at the Flint water crisis. Look at the conditions in the Detroit Public Schools. Look at emergency managers across the state and the impact their decisions have had on our citizens. Who’s protecting their rights?” she said.

Contributors: Chad Livengood, Jonathan Oosting and Keith Laing