Last updated: August 22. 2013 10:44PM - 79 Views

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South Bend Tribune, Ind.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin reportedly had been signaling for months that he might be considering such a decision. The political flurry, however, that followed the announcement March 7 that he won’t seek re-election in 2014 underscores just what an incomparable force he has been in Michigan.

Levin, 78, lauded as one of the hardest-working senators in the chamber, said he believes the next 21 months will be better spent fighting for the passage of policy priorities, rather than raising money and campaigning.

A member of Congress since 1978, Levin chairs the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

A tireless advocate for the auto industry, he played a major role in securing the federal bailout of the auto industry, rallying bipartisan support for the deal that restructured GM and Chrysler and revived many satellite businesses.

As his state’s longest serving senator, he captured billions in funding for Michigan over the course of his six terms, including support to restore the Great Lakes and help in founding the Thunder Bay National

Marine Sanctuary and Keweenaw National Historic Park.

Levin’s opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a vote that may have garnered the most recognition in hindsight. Notably, he had wanted more time so that inspectors could verify that the country indeed posed a threat from weapons of mass destruction.

Levin also became a high-profile member of the banking committee charged with investigating Wall Street excesses after its crash. In his tough but fair way, he passionately stood up for middle America, including hard-hit residents back home.

An unabashed liberal first elected from Michigan when unions still ruled, Levin also is well-regarded for old-school bipartisanship.

He is a public servant who President Barack Obama praised for giving a voice to his constituents whether they’ve “ever worn the uniform, worked a shift on an assembly line or sacrificed to make ends meet.”

That’s the role Michigan leadership should most be looking to replace in a Congress that most often listens to the rich and powerful.

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