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Michigan officials react to passing of former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin

Former Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator, has died at the age of 87, his family announced in a statement Thursday evening.
Credit: The Associated Press

Former Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator, has died at the age of 87, his family announced in a statement Thursday evening.

Since the announcement, lawmakers have released statements on Levin's incredible life and career.

President Joe Biden remembered Levin as being honorable and decent:

"For thirty years, Carl Levin and I served together in the United States Senate. He was one of the most honorable and decent people I have ever known. Brilliant, humble, and principled, Carl earned the trust of his constituents and colleagues by doing the work. He studied the issues in detail. He forged consensus across the aisle. He built coalitions across his beloved Michigan. With his head tilted down, his eyes peering over his glasses – Carl always looked people straight into their own eyes, listened with an open mind, and responded the way he saw it with respect. Over the course of his thirty-six years in the Senate, the longest serving Senator in Michigan history, he showed how democracy – and our institutions – can deliver and work for the people. As chairman and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee during my time leading the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I saw how he built consensus to protect our national security, uphold our values, and honor the service of every patriot in uniform. He led on critical issues ranging from the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, ending the use of torture, and recognizing the dignity of every American and allowing them to serve regardless of who they are and who they love. A son of Detroit who never forgot where he came from, Carl always stood up for the American worker and the iconic American auto industry. In the midst of the Great Recession in 2009, with Detroit on its back and the industry on the brink, we worked together to do everything we could to get them back up. And they did because of Carl. On education, gun safety, on holding corporate America accountable for abuse and greed, and so much more – Carl always looked out for the people. Each time I traveled to Michigan with Carl over the years was special. We would talk about how we both got first involved in public life because of issues of civil rights and first got started in elected office – he on the Detroit City Council and I on the New Castle County Council. We would talk about the beauty of the Great Lakes and the Detroit RiverWalk. Most of all, we would talk about family. Jill and I send our love to his beloved Barbara, their children, and grandchildren. Despite the full life he lived, we know the void his loss leaves. We know despite his courageous fight against cancer, it still leaves behind a heavy toll. We’re also thinking of our dear friends, his brother and former Congressman Sandy Levin, and his nephew Congressman Andy Levin, who share Carl’s commitment to service and country. Carl Levin embodied the character of the people of Michigan he served throughout his remarkable career. Above all, he embodied the best of who we are as Americans. May God bless a great American, a dear friend, and a good man."


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer applauded his dedication to Michigan:

“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.”

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan remembers Levin as one of Michigan's finest leaders:

“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.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, tweeted of Levin's passing Thursday night:

"Carl Levin was a strong voice not only for Michigan but for the standing of Congress as an institution. My thoughts are with the entire Levin family during this time of loss."

Michigan's Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson released a statement Thursday night as well: 

“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.” 

U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids, said this in a tweet Thursday night:

"Rest In Peace Senator Levin. Thank you for your service to our state and our nation."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel praised his unwavering honesty:

“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.”  

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, also tweeted his reaction:

"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."

Lt. Governor Gilchrist released a statement Thursday night:

“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.”

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

Carl Levin is survived by his wife, their three adult daughters, Kate, Laura and Erica, and several grandchildren.

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