Michigan officials react to death of former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin


FILE – In this Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014 file photo, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., attends a news conference about the release of a Pentagon report on sexual assault in the military, at the Capitol in Washington. Former Sen. Carl Levin, a powerful voice for the military during his career as Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator, has died. The Democrat was 87. Levin’s family says Levin died Thursday, July 29, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest serving senator, has died. He was 87.

Family and the Levin Center at Wayne State University’s law school said he died Thursday.

During his career, Levin, a Democrat, was known for his powerful voice for the military.

Thursday night, Michigan lawmakers and officials released statements reacting to his death:

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

“Senator Carl Levin was a champion for Michigan. His 36 year tenure in the United States Senate, the longest in state history, was marked by a tireless commitment to our auto industry, Great Lakes, and men and women in uniform. Carl paved the way for a safer planet, helped pass several nuclear weapons and missile treaties, and spoke out courageously against entering the war in Iraq. He made Michigan a safer and better place for our families, securing funds to create the Detroit Riverwalk and writing the bill that established Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. Carl would often wear his glasses on the tip of his nose, but he saw the best in us. He saw what we were capable of when we came to the table as Michiganders, as Americans, to get things done. Carl devoted his life to public service, and it us up to us to follow his example. My thoughts are with his family, many of whom are lifelong public servants, including his brother, former Congressman Sander Levin and his nephew, Congressman Andy Levin. Carl, we miss you.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

“The world lost a giant today, and I lost a personal hero. Senator Levin’s decades-long dedication to representing the people of Michigan set a bar few elected officials will ever meet. His no-nonsense, brutally honest approach to politics is what gained him respect across the aisle. I greatly admired his unwavering commitment to doing what was right – even if it wasn’t easy – and his passionate approach to understanding every single issue he voted on. We all could learn a great deal from his service. My thoughts are with his loved ones. There will never be another Carl Levin.”

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

“A light has gone out today in Michigan that can never be replaced. I have no words to express what Senator Carl Levin and his lifetime of dedication to our city, state and country meant to me and so many of us who seek to serve and lead during these uniquely divided times.

My best days as Dean at Wayne State University Law School were when I got to work with and learn from him, whether it was co-teaching a class on legislation and leadership or launching the Levin Center, or simply sitting in his office asking him for advice and hearing stories from his life of service.

When I told him I wanted to run for Michigan Secretary of State he was unhesitatingly all-in: hosting events, calling supporters, nominating me at the Michigan Democratic Party Convention. He was a constant source of wisdom and support, always encouraging me to lead courageously and always having my back.

In our last conversation I thanked him for writing his memoirs at a time when we all desperately need to learn more of how he served 36 years in the U.S. Senate and a lifetime in politics while remaining steadfastly humble, loyal, devoted, and kind. 

His commitment to service was everything we need from our leaders but so rarely get. I will miss our lunches, talks, and I’ll keep working every day to be more like him. If we all do that, we can honor his years of devotion to Michigan, to Detroit, and to our country.”

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters

“Senator Levin was one of the finest leaders to have ever served the State of Michigan and our country.

“When I first began serving in Congress, I would often seek Senator Levin’s advice. His guidance was especially important to me as I succeeded him in the United States Senate. He was not only a mentor – he was a personal friend, who I looked up to as an extraordinary public servant. Senator Levin would always extend his hand to get things done for the betterment of our country – and today’s Congress would do well to follow his example of commonsense problem-solving.

“As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Levin focused on ensuring our military was equipped to address growing threats. As Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, he held those in positions of authority accountable – especially those responsible for the Wall Street collapse and the ensuing economic recession.

“And – at his core – Senator Levin was a Michigan man, through and through. From his days on the Detroit City Council to the halls of the United States Senate, Senator Levin always had the well-being of Michiganders on his mind. He was a leader of unmatched character, principled leadership and integrity who will be remembered for his devotion to his family, our state and our country — and whose incredible impact was equaled by his humility.

“Colleen and I extend our deepest condolences to his loving wife Barbara, his daughters Kate, Laura, and Erica, his brother Sandy and to the entire Levin family.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow

“Senator Carl Levin was a champion for truth and justice and a tireless advocate for the people of Michigan. He always believed that our government could be a force for good, and he spent his career showing all of us how it’s done. Senator Levin was also my friend, and it was truly an honor to represent Michigan alongside him for 14 of the 36 years that he served in the Senate. Michigan was so fortunate to have him fighting for us. My heart goes out to his beloved Barbara, his brother and best friend Sandy, his nephew Andy, his wonderful daughters and all of his family.”

State Rep. Dan Kildee

“Michigan has lost a true statesman.

“As an 18-year-old just elected to local office, Carl Levin was my political idol. I remember writing him and Carl graciously responded by setting a meeting between the two of us. I have vivid memories volunteering on Carl’s first campaign for Senate in 1978. I looked up to Carl then the same way I do today. Never did I imagineyears later I would get the privilege of serving with Carl in the United States Congress.

“As Michigan’s longest-serving senator, Carl Levin cast more votes than all but a few senators in American history. Carl was a master legislator and giant in the United States Senate. He will be remembered for many legislative achievements, especially his time as chairman of the Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Carl always gave Michiganders a voice in Congress, fighting to save the American automotive industry and protect our country’s national security. He was never afraid to cross the aisle and work with Republicans if it meant getting results for his constituents.

“Carl was an incredible mentor, friend and colleague. I will miss him greatly. Jennifer and I extend our deepest condolences to Carl’s wife Barbara and the entire Levin family, including his brother, Congressman SanderLevin and nephew, Congressman Andy Levin.”

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Senator Carl Levin. He was a living legend, always putting the needs of Michiganders ahead of his own. Known world-wide as a fierce protector, a defender of peace, and a champion for good, Carl Levin represented the best of Michigan. Born and raised in Detroit, he understood and fought for the working class. His leadership, his steady hand, and his commitment to Democratic values carried Michigan and the entire country through some of our darkest days. Even after his 36-year career as a U.S. Senator came to an end, Carl never stopped being a voice for Michigan – he continued to be an active member of the Michigan Democratic Party and was always willing to offer a listening ear and just the right advice at just the right moment. We are forever grateful for the lifetime commitment that Carl Levin made to Michigan. His decision to serve changed the course of history for the better. It was an honor to spend time with the Senator. He will be deeply missed. Rest well, Senator. We will continue your good work.”

U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer

“Rest In Peace Senator Levin. Thank you for your service to our state and our nation.”

Former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

“Carl Levin made a huge impact on Michigan and America. He was a gentleman, a fighter for Michigan and a wise voice in the Senate. He understood the significance of the special relationship between the US and Israel. Cynthia and I express our deep condolences to the Levin family.”

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalyn Bliss

“I am sad to hear of the passing of US Senator Carl Levin and I send my deepest condolences to his family and friends. I am grateful for his exceptional service to our state and nation. He was a true public servant who I will always hold in high esteem.”

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