(11/07/12) - After more than 50 years of public service, congressman Dale Kildee is retiring
Tuesday night, his nephew picked up the torch - winning the 5th Congressional District.
Even with the well-known family name and more than 30 years of his own local and national leadership experience, Dan Kildee never considered himself a shoe in.
"It occurred to me, 'oh gosh, I have to write a victory speech,' I hadn't even thought about what I was going to say," he said. "I stayed focused on the campaign. It has not yet sunk in."
Tuesday night, it was time to deliver that speech after Dan Kildee beat his Republican opponent, Jim Slezak, by nearly 100,000 votes in the race for the 5th U.S. House seat.
He will take over for his uncle, Dale Kildee, who's retiring after 18 terms in Congress.
"In some ways, Dale has been so much a part of our family life and such a strong connection in our family and he was a great window into the political process for us, so there is a little bit of bittersweet sense as Dale takes his retirement, but it's tempered by the fact that he's earned it. He's 83 years old," Dan said.
Dan says he's ready to continue his uncle's legacy. Though the 54-year-old is a freshman in congress, he is no stranger to politics.
He ran for Flint School Board at 18, and has held a variety of leadership roles since - including a stint as Genesee County Treasurer. Most recently he headed up the Center for Community Progress in Washington D.C., an organization focused on urban re-development.
"Obviously, as a member of congress I'll have to be concerned about everything from health care to foreign affairs, but my expertise I guess would be in urban policy and re-development, so I've already talked to House leadership about this," Dan said.
Just 12 hours after winning the race, Kildee plans to get to work fast.
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