WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, who has been a force for progressivism in the Senate since 1979 and made his mark in recent years as chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, will not run for re-election next year, likely setting off a political avalanche of interest in the seat.

Levin, 78, released a statement Thursday afternoon saying he made the decision believing “I can best serve my state and my nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us … in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election.”

Well, I suppose he's put in his time, and he's certainly getting up there in years, but I was really hoping that he'd stick it out for one more term.

(sigh) OK, well, I'm gonna go ahead and list my top choices for the Democratic nominee to replace Sen. Levin:

--Congressman Gary Peters (MI-14): Peters was my Rep for 4 years until he got redistricted out of my area; he's slightly blue-doggy (on tax issues only), but has been pretty good overall and would be an excellent Senator. He was a state Senator prior to becoming the lottery commissioner and then running for Congress. He's also an extremely savvy campaigner; he managed to survive the Red Bloodbath of 2010 by the skin of his teeth.

Peters has also been speculated to take on Gov. Rick Snyder, and perhaps he will do that instead, but he really seems more comfortable in the Legislative branch than Executive; that's just my gut feeling.

--State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (SD-23): She's the state Senate Minority Leader and has done a yeoman's job of trying to fight the batshit insane state GOP which has a lockhold on every branch of government at the moment. She was widely expected to run against Snyder and was taking every step towards doing so right up until about a month ago when she announced that she's not gonna do it after all, because she has 2 young daughters that she doesn't want to lose time with.

So, a different statewide race is probably not likely for her, but she might have a change of heart.

Other names that have been floating around for Governor--and which therefore are probably gonna bounce around for Senate as well--include former Rep. Mark Schauer and Wayne State University Law Professor/2010 SoS candidate Jocelyn Benson. Schauer is a possibility, but I would be shocked if Benson didn't run for SoS again instead...she's extremely passionate about election reform and literally wrote the book about the Secretary of State position.

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