Longtime Michigan Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election in 2014, indicating that he wants to focus on doing his job rather than campaigning for a seventh term.
"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," Levin said in a statement.
He added, "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."
Levin, who was first elected to the Senate in 1978, said corporate tax avoidance schemes, boosting manufacturing, campaign finance reform, and military budget cuts are among the issues that he will focus on in the next two years.
"These issues will have an enormous impact on the people of Michigan and the nation for years to come, and we need to confront them," Levin said. "I can think of no better way to spend the next two years than to devote all of my energy and attention to taking on these challenges."
In a statement responding to the news, President Barack Obama said Levin was a voice for anyone that has ever worn the uniform, worked a shift on an assembly line, or sacrificed to make ends meet.
"No one has worked harder to bring manufacturing jobs back to our shores, close unfair tax loopholes, and ensure that everyone plays by the same set of rules," Obama said.
He added, "As chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Levin is a true champion for all those who serve, and his tireless work will be missed not just in his home state of Michigan, but by military families across our country."
While Michigan has been a reliably Democratic state in presidential elections in recent years, Levin's retirement gives Republicans a better opportunity to capture the seat.
Brad Dayspring, Communications Director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, claimed Levin's decision puts Democrats far back on their heels and offers the GOP a real pick up opportunity.
"Republicans can win in Michigan, as the Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General have proven," Dayspring said.
He added, "That is why we've been speaking to local officials and grassroots organizations in preparation for Senator Levin's potential retirement, and now that groundwork will start to pay off."
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson are seen as potential Republican candidates.
Meanwhile, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Col., Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Democrats fully expect to keep Michigan blue in 2014.
"I am confident that we will recruit a great Democratic leader who will continue to fight for the values and priorities Senator Levin advocated for all these years," Bennet said.
Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and former Congressman Mark Schauer are seen as possible candidates on the Democratic side along with former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
With Levin's decision to retire, Democrats will have to defend five open Senate seats compared to just two for Republicans. In total, Democrats will have to defend 20 seats in the mid-term elections versus 13 for the GOP.
Democrats currently have a ten-seat advantage in the chamber including the two independents that caucus with the Democrats.
by RTT Staff Writer
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