'A champion for Michigan.' Reaction pours in after death of Carl Levin

Carl Levin
Posted at 10:04 PM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 05:53:48-04

(WXYZ) — Reaction is pouring in from around the country after the death of Carl Levin, the longest-serving U.S. Senator in Michigan's history.

Related: WATCH: Carl Levin gives farewell address to U.S. Senate in 2014

Levin died at the age of 87, the Levin Center at Wayne State Law announced late Thursday night.

Below are some of the reactions from leaders around the U.S.

Related: Former Michigan Senator Carl Levin dies at the age of 87

Sen. Debbie Stabenow

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Rep. Andy Levin – Carl Levin's nephew

Throughout my adult life, wherever I went in Michigan, from Copper Harbor to Monroe, I would run into people who would say, ‘I don’t always agree with Senator Levin, but I support him anyway because he is so genuine, he tells it straight and he follows through.’

Carl Levin personified integrity and the notion of putting the public good above self-interest. As he walked about the Capitol in a rumpled suit, almost always with a plain white shirt and pedestrian tie, carrying bulging files with the occasional paper flying away, Carl was the very picture of sober purpose and rectitude. In truth, he wasn’t unfun. In fact, he often pierced tense situations with self-deprecating humor, and he privately shared incisive observations about others with staff and colleagues.

But Carl was all about the work, and the great honor the people of Michigan had bestowed upon him with their votes and their trust. He did not seek to divine their views to be popular, but rather to study the issues and advance the people’s interest to the best of his ability. Uncle Carl met with more presidents, kings, queens and other important people than all but a few of us ever will. But he treated them all the same as he did a Detroit autoworker or a beet farmer in Michigan’s Thumb – with a full measure of dignity but no airs, ever ready to puncture self-importance, posturing, mendacity and avarice.

He was so well-prepared for every meeting, hearing, and conference that he challenged conventional boundaries between senator and staff. He was one of the most challenging senators to work for and one of the most rewarding. Challenging, because you had better know your business in detail, since he surely did. Rewarding, because he had authentic relationships with staff, treated them with deep respect, and was loyal to them.

Uncle Carl was above all a family man. No matter the pressing business he faced as a senator, he always centered Aunt Barbara, my cousins Kate, Laura and Erica and their families, devoted time to them and so obviously cherished them. And the way he loved and treated his family radiated out and served as a model for how he treated colleagues, staff, constituents, soldiers and the world.

From my earliest memory to this moment, perhaps above all, he has defined with my dad how close two brothers, two siblings, two people can be. In the end, these two Jewish boys from Detroit, these grandsons of immigrants each served 36 years in Congress, 32 of them together, becoming by far the longest co-serving siblings in the 232-year history of this place. As heartbroken as we are in this moment, I feel so grateful to have experienced this love and legacy.”

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.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. Senator, Carl Levin. We lost a true statesman tonight. Born in Detroit in 1934, he served our city with dignity as a City Councilman and our nation as a US Senator and always considered Detroit his home. Sen. Levin was first and foremost a dedicated family man. He will be remembered as a champion for civil rights, for his protection of the US auto industry, and for securing critical funding to begin the redevelopment of our internationally acclaimed Riverfront. His legacy will live on forever in the hearts of Detroiters. My heart goes out to his family at this difficult time."

Rep. Debbie Dingell

“Carl was one of the most decent human beings to walk the face of the earth. He was John Dingell’s best friend and partner in Congress. He was a steadfast leader who always stood up for what was right and knew every ounce about every issue. His contributions in Congress and in his Michigan community live on to this day and have impacted so many hardworking American families.

“I will always remember his words, ‘If you don’t come to elected office willing to compromise, you don’t come wanting to govern.’ That’s the kind of elected official he was – respectful, willing to listen, and ready to get to work. But aside from notable public service, Carl was an ever-present family man and friend that exuded compassion and respect for everyone. He and John had an inseparable bond and could always been seen saving a seat for one another. This strong bond was tied together by their deep passion for public service, their Michigan roots, and a love for witty humor.

“The Levins and Dingells friendship has been a strong force for over 70 years. My heart is with the entire Levin family, especially his wife Barbara, his best friend and brother Sandy, and my colleague Rep. Andy Levin. I know John is welcoming Carl with open arms and a twinkle in his eye and that they are both watching over us all. May Carl’s memory be a blessing that lives on every single day.”

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."

Rep. Bill Huizenga

Rep. Dan Kildee

"Michigan has lost a true statesman. Carl Levin was a master legislator and giant in the U.S. Senate. He always gave Michiganders a voice, fighting to save the American automotive industry & protect our national security. My deepest condolences to the entire Levin family."

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.”

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."

Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow

"Carl Levin took a chance on a total newbie and showed up for me with the most rousing intro you've ever heard. He didn't have to, and I'll forever be grateful to that belief in me. He was a giant, but humble and hilarious. May his memory be a blessing."

Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter

“Our state has lost a giant who will forever serve as the gold standard of public service. We have been blessed by a tremendous brother team and my deepest sympathy goes out to Sandy, Carl’s wife Barbara and the entire Levin family."

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel

"My sincere condolences go out to the Levin family. Senator Carl Levin was a champion for the state of Michigan, and a friend to Macomb County. We will be forever thankful for his service."

Sen. Brian Schatz – Democrat from Hawaii