Democratic Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan announced Saturday that he will not seek re-election to a 19th term in 2018.
Levin, whose Democratic-leaning district is in suburban Detroit, said he will teach at the University of Michigan after 36 years in Washington.
"I have tried to live up to the trust given to me by my constituents by following the values of my parents and family and by acting on what I believe after digging deeply into the facts and consulting broadly," Levin, 86, said in a statement released after The Associated Press reported that he would not run again. "I now want to share these same values in ways other than being an elected official," he said.Levin has served on the House Ways and Means Committee, which makes tax and trade law, for almost 30 years. He was the top Democrat on the panel from 2010 through 2016 and was chairman during passage of the federal health care law.
Levin, a Royal Oak resident, has represented various parts of suburban Detroit since the early 1980s. His brother Carl was a U.S. senator from Michigan until 2015, and they were the longest-serving sibling duo in congressional history.
"The voters respected my strong belief that stereotypes and prejudice do not represent the measure of an individual or of a community. In one of my elections, a primary opponent suggested that I could not represent Macomb County because I had never owned a Christmas tree," Sander Levin, who is Jewish, wrote in an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press.
He cited as accomplishments his work fighting for comprehensive health care, blocking attempts to privatize Social Security, working for fairer trade policies and partnering with Michigan's congressional delegation on the federal bailout that rescued the auto industry.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement calling Levin "a principled patriot, champion of the people of Michigan and deeply esteemed leader in the Congress."
"In his 35 years in the Congress, he has fought tirelessly on behalf of families in Michigan and across the country to expand quality, affordable health care, secure the dignity of a good retirement and promote fair trade that leaves no worker behind," Pelosi said.
Michigan's 9th Congressional District includes areas of Oakland and Macomb counties. Levin's son is seen as a likely candidate for his father's seat. Andy Levin considered a run for governor, but decided against it, writing recently that he would instead focus on "building the movement for economic and social justice closer to home." Another likely Democratic candidate is state Sen. Steve Bieda.
Before joining Congress, Levin was assistant administrator in the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was a state senator and twice the Democratic nominee for governor in the 1970s."Sandy has fought for fair trade deals, affordable health care, and the rights of workers everywhere. His contributions will be evident for a long time, not just in the U.S. but around the globe," said Rep. Dan Kildee, a Flint-area Democrat.
Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan called Levin a mentor and a role model."If there is one lasting legacy Sandy will leave behind, it is his steadfast commitment to improving the lives of working people," he said.
Levin is the second Michigan congressman to decide against seeking re-election, joining second-term Republican Rep. Dave Trott, who represents the neighboring 11th District in suburban Detroit.