Rep. John Dingell (D)
Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn

Robert L. Steele, a cardiologist from Superior Township, said he will challenge U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, for the U.S. 15th Congressional District seat in what he hopes will draw the attention of conservatives all over the country.

Steele, 52, said he'll run as a Republican and realizes he must raise "well over" $1 million for a legitimate shot at defeating Dingell, the longest-serving U.S. representative. Dingell has been in office since 1955.

Steele may have to win the primary first, as at least one other GOP candidate has announced he is running against Dingell: Jack Lynch is also running as a Republican. Dingell outraised Lynch $2.7 million to $20,000 in the 2008 election, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Robert L. Steele
Robert L. Steele

Like Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman in New York's 23rd Congressional District and Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Steele hopes his campaign can garner national support.

"Our general intention is to turn this into a national race with him (Dingell) being the poster child for everything that is wrong with Congress," Steele said.

With no prior political experience, Steele says that is to his advantage.

"We can't expect a career politician who caused all the problems to fix them," Steele said. "I'm not looking at this as some long-term thing. I'm not going to be there 20 years from now."

Steele was a founding shareholder of Michigan Heart, P.C. and serves as the chair of the finance committee and benefits committee.

He has been a vocal critic of President Barack Obama's health care reform proposals and has spoke at forums as an expert. Steele said he considers himself an independent. He said he held a 1994 GOP fundraiser and hadn't given to the Republican Party since then until the fall of 2009. Steele said he was more interested "in ideas than party."

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Steele starts out behind Dingell in funding. According to the Federal Election Commission, Dingell has $622,587 in his campaign as of Dec. 31.

District 15 includes Washtenaw, Monroe and Wayne counties, as well as Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Dearborn Heights and Romulus.

Steele is married. His wife, Phyllis Boniface, is a psychiatrist. They have four children.