Carl Levin Announces Retirement

Sen. Carl Levin, who has represented Michigan in the Senate for as long as I’ve been politically aware, has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2014 and will retire; he will be 80 by the time of the 2014 election. In a statement he said:

“I love representing the people of Michigan in the U.S. Senate and fighting for the things that I believe are important to them. As Barbara and I struggled with the question of whether I should run again, we focused on our belief that our country is at a crossroads that will determine our economic health and security for decades to come. We decided that I can best serve my state and nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us that I am in a position to help address; in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election.”

I didn’t agree with Levin on many things. Though a Democrat, he is way too far to the right when it comes to executive power, in my view. But he has always seemed like a fundamentally decent guy to me. I’ve had the chance to interview him a couple times and found him to be charming and engaging and very well informed.

So now the positioning begins in both parties to battle for the seat, which would seem to be very safely Democratic. Michigan has only elected one Republican senator in the last 40 years and then only for one term, and hasn’t voted Republican for president since 1988. So some speculation on who may run from both sides:

For the Republicans, I think Pete Hoekstra may consider running again (he lost to Sen. Debbie Stabenow soundly last year). He has a lot of name recognition, but he’s now lost two statewide elections in a row and the GOP may be ready to put him out to pasture. A couple of U.S. Reps may well mount a run at it, including Justin Amash and Mike Rogers, and state Rep. Jase Bolger seems like a possibility too.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer is a possibility, as is Wayne State University law professor Jocelyn Benson, who unsuccessfully ran for attorney general last year. I could strongly support either of those candidates. A wildcard candidate? How about former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. She’s not terribly popular here, but she could make a run.

This could be a very interesting race to watch, especially if the Republicans nominate a far right Tea Party candidate like Amash.

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  • Jordan Genso

    This is the first time that I’ve heard Jocelyn Benson’s name for the seat, but I think that would be ideal. I have tremendous respect for her, and I am fairly certain the party knows she represents our future in the state. Sending her to the Senate would be like sending another Elizabeth Warren.

  • Jordan Genso

    Oh, and Jocelyn ran for Michigan’s Secretary of State in 2010, not attorney general.

  • slc1

    What say Michiganders James Hanley and MH?

  • Cathy W

    Thoughts or feelings on Hansen Clarke, who was gerrymandered out of Congress last year?

  • Err yeah, secretary of state. I knew that. I think she’d be great in Washington. She’s an expert on election law and I’d love to see her lead a fight for making election laws uniform.

  • CSB

    I’m hoping for Hoekstra to run again. These days, it’s just not a Michigan election without our own homegrown perennial candidate. It’s like having Lyndon LaRouche, only without the sanity.

  • cottonnero

    Ah yes, Pete “That’s not racist. I asked several yes men in my echo chamber and they all said it wasn’t racist.” Hoekstra.

  • Michael Heath

    Carl Levin:

    “I love representing the people of Michigan in the U.S. Senate and fighting for the things that I believe are important to them.

    I find this is statement is a bit rich. I’m a long-time fan of Senator Levin, but he was a Senator’s Senator in the sense that he did the American people’s business; working in the nation’s interests and mostly keeping his head down when it comes to Michigan’s specific issues.

    He also wasn’t big on channeling money from D.C. to the state with the exception of protecting the auto industry from regulations which favored them at the expense of competing interests. That being a standard-issue behavioral trait for nearly every senator when it comes to their respective state’s parochial business concerns. Our other senator, Debbie Stabenow, who is also a Democrat, emphasizes Michiganders’ concerns far more than Sen. Levin, especially out-state (outside the Detroit metro area). From this perspective they complement each other well.

    [To be clear, I agree with the framers that U.S. Senators should work on the nations’ behalf rather than their states more narrow interests. However that only works if nearly all Senators adhere to this standard. As soon as some start acting like House Representatives the ones working to a higher calling get the shaft.]