Carl Levin, longtime Democratic US senator, dies

“Whether chairing a hearing on critical national security issues or working on behalf of his home state, he believed that cooperation and compromise served our common purpose better than partisanship and political brinkmanship. He was a clear voice for a military strong enough to defend our nation and uphold American values. He has been a tireless advocate of the positive role government can play in the lives of the American people and a tireless guardian who ensures that government programs meet their obligations, “the Levin Family and Levin Center statement read in part.

The former senator died Thursday at the age of 87.

First elected to Congress in 1978, he was the longest-serving U.S. Senator in Michigan’s history. A graduate of Swarthmore College with a law degree from Harvard, Levin made civil rights advocacy a priority early on in his career through his work with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. He used his job as a public defender in Detroit – where he grew up – and on the Detroit City Council to launch a national political career that made him a Democratic Party champion.

Known in Washington as a hardworking and pragmatic lawmaker, he often worked on the other side, even in an increasingly partisan climate.

President Joe Biden issued a statement Friday in mourning for Levin, calling the late senator “one of the most honorable and decent people I have ever known.”

“Head down and looking over his glasses – Carl always looked people straight into his own eyes, listened with an open mind and reacted with respect for the way he saw it,” said Biden, adding that Levin “showed” how democracy – and our institutions – delivering to people and being able to work for them. “

After serving nine years as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Levin’s decades in the Senate were marked by his advocacy of tax reform and the promotion of jobs in US manufacturing, particularly in the auto industry.

“Holding the government accountable and ensuring that legally approved programs are carried out effectively and efficiently have been important guides throughout my tenure on the Detroit City Council, my first campaign, and my entire Senate career,” wrote Levin in his 2021 memoir: ” Getting to the core of the subject. “

“As a former local official, I understood the importance of responding to people in need, listening to even the smallest voice, and working hard for people with honesty, integrity and courtesy.”

As an inconspicuous civil servant, Levin had won most of his elections by a wide margin, despite grappling with sensitive political issues at home and abroad – including voting against then-President Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts and later the Iraq war.

He announced his resignation in 2013, calling it an “extremely difficult” decision because of his “love for representing the people of Michigan in the Senate and fighting for the things I believe are important to them.”

Still, after leaving Congress and joining a private law firm, Honigman Attorneys and Counselors, Levin continued to be involved in politics – including full support for then-candidate Biden in March 2020.

“Any Democratic candidate would be superior to four more years of endless Trump lies, division and rudeness. Everyone would end Trump’s relentless lethal injection against those who disagree with him and his endless rising of his personal interest and ego over the interests of the nation, “Levin said in a statement at the time.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that Vice President Joe Biden has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump – and the best chance of winning Michigan’s votes.”

Levin is the brother of former Michigan Democratic MP Sander Levin, who served 18 terms in Congress, and the uncle of Democratic MP Andy Levin, who succeeded his father upon retirement.

Levin leaves behind his wife Barbara and his three daughters Erica, Laura and Kate, whom he described in his memoirs as crucial to his long political career.

“Throughout my career, Barbara (and sometimes our daughters) has been my thought partner on many of the topics and projects I have tackled. Her keen intellect has helped me think through the decisions and actions I have made,” wrote Levin.

“I was very fortunate to have both a challenging and meaningful work life and a rich family life. This was in large part thanks to the support and understanding of Barbara and our daughters.”

That story was updated on Friday with a statement from President Joe Biden.

CNN’s Ted Barrett, Jeremy Herb and DJ Judd contributed to this report.

Comments are closed.