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Former Sen. Carl Levin, powerful military voice and Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator, has died

Posted at 9:52 PM, Jul 29, 2021

DETROIT (AP/WXMI) — Former Sen. Carl Levin, powerful military voice and Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator, has died.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a statement in response to Levin's passing, saying Levin saw the best in everyone and that he was deeply committed to the Great Lakes, Michigan's automotive industry and our armed service members.

Governor Whitmer's full statement reads:

“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.”

Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist says Levin always put Michigan first and that every last resident benefited from his influence.

Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist's full statement reads:

“Senator Levin was a giant whose power and dedication was felt throughout our state. Michiganders trusted Senator Levin to get the job done, which is why they continued to send him back to Washington, D.C as our state’s longest-serving senator. And throughout all of those years, Senator Levin never backed down from putting Michigan families first. There’s not a single Michigander who hasn’t benefited from the policies and programs that Senator Levin helped to usher through Congress. His presence will be greatly missed by the untold lives that he touched, especially the young leaders like me who he continually encouraged and supported. My heart is with his family and all of the Michiganders across the state who are mourning this tremendous loss. Senator Levin set the path for all of us to continue his great work.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel says, "There will never be another Carl Levin." Nessel says Levin's brutal honesty garnered respect from Democrats and Republicans alike and that he set a high bar when it comes to representing Michiganders.

Nessel's full statement reads:

“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.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says she values Levin's wisdom and his commitment to serving the people of Michigan.

SOS Benson's full statement reads:

"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."

Sen. Debbie Stabenow offered her condolences to Levin's family, adding he was a "tireless advocate" for Michiganders.

Senator Stabenow's full statement reads:

“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.”

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes says Levin represented Michigan for his entire political career, adding he fought hard for the working class and was always willing to offer clear advice.

Barnes's full statement reads:

"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."

Sen. Gary Peters released a statement, saying in part that Levin's guidance was invaluable and that he was fiercely devoted to the state of Michigan as well as the United States.

Senator Peters's full statement reads:

“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.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan CEO Daniel J. Loepp says Levin was passionate in serving Michigan and did so tirelessly.

Loepp's full statement reads:

“Senator Carl Levin was a public servant that was a champion for Detroit, Michigan and the United States. He advocated tirelessly for Michigan’s industrial economy, national security, ethics in politics, civil rights, health care and the environment. He had a passionate commitment to public service and the well-being of American families. Carl Levin was a proud Detroiter and a person we should all be proud to claim as one of our own. Our condolences go out to his wife Barbara, his brother Congressman Sander Levin and the entire Levin family.”

Congressman Dan Kildee says Levin was "a true statesman" and didn't hesitate to reach across the aisle to work with Republicans for the sake of serving his constituents.

Congressman Kildee's full statement reads:

“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 imagine years 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 Sander Levin and nephew, Congressman Andy Levin.”

Congressman John Moolenaar says Levin will be best remembered for his countless achievements in his political career.

Congressman Moolenaar's full statement reads:

“Senator Levin served the people of Michigan for many years and he devoted his life to service. He was held in high-regard by Republicans and Democrats, and he will be long-remembered for many achievements, including his strong oversight of the federal government. My prayers today are with my colleague Andy Levin and the entire Levin family as they mourn their loss and celebrate Senator Levin’s legacy of accomplishments.”

House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski says Levin presented himself as a "shining example" of how one should serve their constituents.

Lasinksi's full statement reads:

“Michigan has lost a giant of statesmanship and integrity. Over Carl Levin’s more than three decades in the Senate, he set a shining example of working for the people of his state and staying true to his word. I offer my most sincere condolences to his family.”

The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC) says Levin served with humility throughout his career, adding Levin's positive influence is still felt today.

Executive Secretary-Treasurer Tom Lutz's full statement reads:

“Senator Levin served his state with distinction for decades. Working men and women throughout Michigan continue to benefit today from the results Senator Levin delivered from Washington with his trademark humility, wit, and integrity. Despite rising to the highest levels of office, Senator Levin never forgot where he came from, or the people he served so well. On behalf of the working families of the MRCC, I extend our sincere condolences to the Levin family in their time of mourning.”

Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters honored the late Carl Levin on the U.S. Senate Floor the day after Levin's passing.