Sen. Carl Levin talks with reporters as Senate Republicans and Democrats head to their weekly policy luncheon on March 19, 2013 in Washington, DC. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images)
Washington — Retiring U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan said Tuesday he has no second thoughts about deciding not to run for a seventh term in 2014.
"None at all," said Levin, 78, D-Detroit, in a Detroit News interview. "I don't want to be distracted by being out campaigning and raising money… instead of doing my job here."
Levin said his age — he would be 86 at the end of a seventh six-year term — was not a factor, nor was any possible Republican challenger.
"I thought I would have a very good chance of winning again. The possibility that I might or might not win again was not a factor," he said. "I didn't want to be on the phone for hours. I didn't want to be running around the country for hours. I didn't want to be spending all this time."
Levin acknowledged he will miss the place where he has worked since 1979.
"Of course I will miss being in the Senate, but as I said, I thought it would be more important to be doing my job and I am determined to do it for two years."
Levin said "it is likely that the Democratic candidate — whoever he or she is — will be so strong that it will continue to be Democratic."
At least two members of Michigan's congressional delegation — Reps. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, and Mike Rogers, R-Brighton — have said they are seriously considering a run for the 2014 open seat.
Levin, who announced earlier this month he will step down, said he wants to focus on the fact that billions of dollars in tax revenue annually goes uncollected.
"We basically wanted the next two years to be totally focused on the issues that need to be addressed," Levin said, who is holding a series of hearings through the permanent subcommittee on investigations, which he chairs, on tax avoidance efforts by large companies.
Fellow Democrats and President Barack Obama last week gave Levin a standing ovation at the weekly policy luncheon. This week, Levin delivered a speech on the need for changes in tax collection and held up a copy of the British magazine The Economist's Feb. 16 issue: "The missing $20 trillion: How to stop companies and people dodging tax, in Delaware as well as Grand Cayman."
"I'm going after this ungodly amount of money that comes to these campaigns and the failure of the IRS to make these tax-exempt organizations comply with the law," Levin said. "I have a specific role — as chairman of the permanent subcommittee — in terms of focusing on the drain on our Treasury from the hundreds of billions of dollars of lost revenue."
Levin also said he will focus on budget issues and other major legislative accomplishments.
"I think we are at a crossroads in this country in terms of where we are going to go in terms of our budget and our finances," Levin said.
Levin, a former Detroit city council president and self-described "proud Detroiter," said it is time for the city to move forward after Gov. Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager to oversee the city's finances. Washington bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr will start this Monday.
"Now that it's done, I think we have to move forward," Levin said. "It's done now. I think we got to get on with it and make the best of it."