Photo of Sen. Carl Levin from the Associated Press.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - After more than 30 years in office, U.S. Senator Carl Levin says he is not running for re-election when his current term expires in 2015.
Kent County Democratic Party Chair Ed Kettle says he is not really surprised.
"I saw him at the state democratic convention," says Kettle. "He had not made a decision, but said he was talking about it with his wife. I thought, anytime a politician says they re talking about it with his wife, he's gone."
Kettle worked on the 1984 campaign to re-elect Levin. He says it was an unforgettable experience.
"It was a great campaign," recalls Kettle. "He came to town a lot and I got to know him. I loved being around the guy."
Although Levin is one of the most liberal Democrats in Congress, former Grand Rapids Republican congressman Vern Ehlers says he always got along well with the senator.
"I hold him in high regard," says Ehlers. "He's a very capable person. He's always been fair to me and I worked very well with Carl."
There is already buzz about who might run to replace Senator Levin. Grand Rapids Republican congressman Justin Amash said he was interested in the seat before Senator Levin even announced his plans. Former congressmen Pete Hoekstra and Vern Ehlers, Attorney General Bill Schutte, former governors Blanchard and Granholm and congressman Gary Peters are on the ever growing list of candidates who might run to replace Senator Levin.
"I obviously will give it some thought," says Ehlers. "There will be no shortage of competitors on both sides of the aisle."
"I haven't heard one person say they were definitely going to run," says Kettle. "We will just have to see how this shakes out."