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Dingell survives Michigan primary

Bonior fails in gubernatorial bid

Dingell greets his supporters Tuesday night.
Dingell greets his supporters Tuesday night.  

DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) -- Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of the House, won a primary battle Tuesday against fellow Democratic Rep. Lynn Rivers after a hard-fought campaign in a suburban Detroit district.

However, another veteran Democratic House member from Michigan, Rep. David Bonior, the former House minority whip, lost his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to state Attorney General Jennifer Granholm. She will face Republican Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus in November.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Dingell had 59 percent of the vote, compared to 41 percent for Rivers, according to The Associated Press.

Dingell, 76, claimed victory shortly before 11 p.m., telling supporters Rivers had called him to concede. He is expected to win the seat in November in the strongly Democratic district centered in southern Wayne County, which will be his 25th two-year term in the House.

"It was a great race, and it was a great success, and we're very grateful," Dingell said.

Bonior hugs his wife Judy after conceding.
Bonior hugs his wife Judy after conceding.  

He and Rivers, who has served four terms in the House, were thrown into a race together after the GOP-controlled Michigan Legislature redrew the lines of congressional districts during reapportionment. Bonior opted to run for governor, rather than a 14th term in the House, after legislators made his district more Republican.

With 65 percent of precincts reporting, Granholm had 322,627 votes, or 48 percent. Bonior had 188,554 votes, or 28 percent, and former Gov. James Blanchard had 163,235 votes, or 24 percent, the AP reported.

Incumbent GOP Gov. John Engler was prevented by term limits from seeking a fourth term.

If elected, Granholm would be the state's first woman governor. She has drawn heavy backing from EMILY's List, a national fund-raising network that supports Democratic women who back abortion rights. Bonior had hoped to rely on the organizational strength of unions to boost turnout within his base.

The Democratic nominee will be heavily favored this fall over Posthumus, a staunch conservative, who easily won the Republican nomination over state Sen. John Schwarz, a social moderate who chaired Sen. John McCain's successful primary bid here in the 2000 presidential race. Granholm led Posthumus by 22 points in the latest independent poll.

Dingell has established a reputation on Capitol Hill as a widely feared yet highly effective legislator with aisle-crossing appeal due to his support for some gun rights and restrictions on abortion laws.

Granholm speaks to supporters Tuesday night.
Granholm speaks to supporters Tuesday night.  

He opposed the Brady bill and has backing from the National Rifle Association, which urged its members to take advantage of Michigan's open primary law and vote for Dingell even if they are Republicans. Dingell also supports some restrictions on late-term abortions. Back home, Dingell embodies a blue-collar, male-dominated and culturally conservative coalition and drew heavy union backing, especially within the state's auto industry.

Rivers received support powerful groups Dingell has alienated -- advocates of gun control, environmentalists and abortion rights supporters, all of whom play heavily in Democratic primary races. She had also hoped to attract women and more liberal voters in Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan.

To combat Rivers' strength among women, Dingell invited several prominent Democratic women to stump with him -- among them Tipper Gore, who touted Dingell as a "great friend and a great help" to her husband, former Vice President Al Gore, when he first entered the House in 1977.

-- CNN Political Editor John Mercurio contributed to this report.




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