Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) won’t seek reelection in 2014

Alex Wong/Getty Images - Michigan Democrat Carl Levin will not seek re-election next year. The 78-year-old senator has held his seat since 1979, is chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee and has not faced a close election in decades.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan) announced on Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2014, saying he wanted to focus on the nation’s challenges and not on politics.

In a statement, Levin explained that he and his wife “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.”

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In his statement, Levin mentions corporate tax avoidance, the health of the manufacturing industry, campaign finance reform, military budget cuts, the end of the war in Afghanistan and veterans’ care as issues he wants to address in his final two years in office.

The 78-year-old senator has held his seat since 1979, is chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee and has not faced a close election in decades.

A former civil rights lawyer, Levin was a leading critic of the war in Iraq. As chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, he has investigated Enron, the credit card industry, the 2008 financial crisis and offshore tax havens.

The senator is also known as a hard-working advocate for his state, pushing to protect Great Lakes water and manufacturing jobs. The one-time line worker at a Ford tractor factory also pushed hard for the auto industry bailout.

Levin becomes the seventh senator to announce his retirement so far this year, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who resigned in January.

The other retirees are Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.).

Candidates who will likely look at the seat include Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), though he and other Democrats may also be interested in running against Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

“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,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael F. Bennet (Colo.) said in a statement.

On the GOP side, Attorney General Bill Schuette is a likely prospect. Rep. Justin Amash will also likely consider a bid. Republicans struggled to field a top-tier candidate against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) last year, as former congressman Pete Hoekstra never seemed to recover from some early stumbles.

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