Levin won’t seek re-election, candidates begin to emerge

By: Brian Louwers | C&G Newspapers | Published December 8, 2017

 U.S. Rep. Sander Levin has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

METRO DETROIT — U.S. Rep. Sander Levin will leave Congress after 35 years in 2018, a decision he announced Dec. 2 in a statement to his constituents.

“I have been incredibly honored to serve the people of Michigan in Congress and to work on so many issues important to our communities, our state and our nation,” Levin said. “I have tried to live up to the trust given to me by my constituents by following the values of my parents and family, and by acting on what I believe after digging deeply into the facts and consulting broadly.”

The congressman said he plans to join the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy once his term expires.

“I now want to share these same values in ways other than being an elected official,” he said. “Working to renew our confidence in promoting positive change, especially among our next generation of leaders, will be a particular interest.”

The expected open seat in Michigan’s 9th Congressional District, which spans portions of Oakland and Macomb counties, brought announcements from two Democratic candidates in the days that followed: Levin’s son, Andy Levin, of Bloomfield Township, a clean energy policy and jobs advocate; and state Sen. Steve Bieda, of Warren, who served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives prior to his election to the state Senate.

On the Republican side, Sterling Heights business owner Candius Stearns declared her intention to run for the seat on Oct. 4, before Levin had announced his intention to leave Congress.

Andy Levin launched his campaign and issued a press release on Dec. 5. Although he has no experience holding elected office, he reached out to voters by emphasizing his role in government with the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth, and his work as a longtime organizer for human rights and the rights of workers.

“After 60 years of Republican divide-and-conquer politics and 40 years of trickle-down economics where wealth has in fact rushed to the top, it is time to unite around policies that raise living standards for working people,” Andy Levin said. “We need a new movement focused on creating good jobs, education and training, protecting our air and water, and restoring faith in our government.”

Bieda, who will leave the Michigan Senate under term limits in 2018, announced his candidacy for Sander Levin’s seat with a press release of his own on Dec. 6.

“I have been overwhelmed by so many people in Macomb and Oakland counties asking me to run. Working families in the 9th Congressional District need leadership that is proven, steady and strong,” Bieda said. “As your congressman, I pledge to never stop fighting for good jobs for the middle class, to protect our Great Lakes and to hold elected officials to the highest ethical standards.”

On the Republican side, Stearns said last year’s presidential race and the election of Donald Trump showed that voters are more concerned about getting results than they are about political party lines or a district’s political leanings over the years.

“People want to see the job get done. I’m a Republican and I am conservative, but what I really feel like when I speak to the people of our district is that they’re more interested in seeing their congressional representative provide results than they are about what ticket they’re on,” Stearns said. “I’ve been going around the district, meeting with constituents and meeting with the residents, just talking about jobs and health care. That’s been the main focus I’ve been hearing from them.”

Political consultant and Democratic strategist Joe DiSano, owner of DiSano Strategies LLC, said the potential pool of candidates is very broad on the Democratic side, including both Andy Levin and Bieda. He suggested that Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, of Huntington Woods, would join the group of Democratic front-runners, should he announce his candidacy for the job.

“I’ve worked in the private and nonprofit sectors, but the bulk of my career has been devoted to public service, as a state representative and a county treasurer, and before that as an aid to Congressman Levin in D.C.,” Meisner said. “I’ve seen the real impact that somebody in that position can have to the benefit of working families in the district and beyond. I’m just taking a little time to consider what form of service is best and will yield the best results for the people I serve.”

DiSano also said to expect a woman to emerge on the Democratic side to challenge for the seat.

“I don’t think there’s any scenario where a prominent female doesn’t get in this race,” DiSano said. “It’s just a question of who it is and where they’re from.”

During his 35 years in Congress, Sander Levin has represented voters in three districts spanning 30 metro Detroit communities.

Michigan’s 9th Congressional District includes Beverly Hills, Berkley, Bingham Farms, Clawson, Center Line, Eastpointe, Ferndale, Franklin, Fraser, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Madison Heights, Mount Clemens, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Roseville, St. Clair Shores, Sterling Heights and Warren.