Andy Levin rules out run for Michigan governor

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Democrat Andy Levin, the son of U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, said Tuesday he will not run for governor but did not rule out a congressional campaign should his father decide to retire.

Levin announced his decision in a Detroit News opinion column, explaining he will not join a Democratic gubernatorial primary field headlined by former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing.

Instead, the former state government official wrote that he will focus “on building the movement for economic and social justice closer to home.”

In a follow-up interview, Levin said he is not ready to back Whitmer or any other Democrat running for governor but will support the party’s nominee. Other hopefuls include former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed and Ann Arbor entrepreneur Shri Thanedar.

“I still want to see how the whole thing develops and see what the best path is,” said Levin, who lives in Bloomfield Township. “But I think 2018 is going to be a great year for Democrats, so I’m going to work hard to see that up and down the ticket.”

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, remains active but has not yet announced re-election plans for 2018, fueling speculation the 86-year-old could retire. He represents the 9th Congressional District, which includes parts of Oakland and Macomb counties.

Despite sluggish fundraising totals, the congressman’s office has said he “feels very confident he can wage a successful campaign.”

Asked about his dad’s plans, Andy Levin said he “is working incredibly hard for the 9th District and, as far as I’m concerned, for all Michiganders and all Americans.”

Levin noted his father has been defending Chaldean immigrants facing possible deportation, attempting to influence negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement and fighting what he called a “super regressive” Republican tax reform plan.

“My view is every day my dad serves in Congress is a great day for the American people,” he said. “That’s all I really have to say about it.”

A Harvard-trained attorney, Levin is president and founder of Levin Energy Partners, which develops private-public partnerships for clean energy initiatives.

He previously worked as a deputy in the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and was elevated to acting director in 2010 during the final months former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s tenure.

Levin was actively exploring a possible gubernatorial campaign and told The News last month he was nearing a decision.

As part of that process, he said he heard from a lot of Oakland and Macomb County residents who “reject this notion” that working-class areas are turning into Republican strongholds.

“I think it’s almost offensive,” Levin said. “I think the vast majority of working people just want someone who’s going to champion their interest, so I think there’s a lot of great work to do in Metro Detroit around all that.”

Blue-collar support in Macomb was a significant factor last year in President Donald Trump’s narrow statewide win. He was the first Republican nominee to win Michigan since 1988, and Republicans say they hope to build on those gains in 2018.