This decision was extremely difficult because I love representing the people of Michigan in the U.S. Senate and fighting for the things that I believe are important to them.Levin goes on to outline those issues in the rest of his statement: cracking down on tax avoidance schemes, making sure Michigan's "manufacturing renaissance" continues, shedding light on secret money used in political campaigns, and ensuring our military readiness. Policy aside, there is, of course, the matter of politics. Levin originally said he'd decide in February but in pushing off that decision, he sounded decidedly unenthused, and who could blame him? Had Levin run again, he would have been a lock, but now the landscape has changed.
As Barbara and I struggled with the question of whether I should run again, we focused on our belief that our country is at a crossroads that will determine our economic health and security for decades to come. We decided that I can best serve my state and nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us that I am in a position to help address; in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election.
So the question, as always, is who might try to succeed him. Republicans chased fool's gold last year in the Wolverine State, as ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra's dismal, racist campaign utterly floundered against Dem Sen. Debbie Stabenow. Will try they again? They don't have much of a bench, as evidenced by the fact that they turned to, well, Hoekstra last year. Rep. Candice Miller would be an upgrade, but the odds will be against the GOP just thanks to Michigan's demographics. And Rep. Justin Amash would be simply hilarious.
As for Democrats, the same names that have circulated for the governor's race will likely get talked about a bunch now: Rep. Gary Peters, ex-Rep. Mark Schauer and state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer top the list. Other possibilities could include 2010 gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero, Andy Dillon (whom Bernero beat in the primary) and 2010 secretary of state nominee Jocelyn Benson.
Ultimately, what was a safe Democratic seat is now probably in the "Likely D" category, but we will, of course, keep track of all further developments here closely.