Endorsement: Levin the right choice for 9th District Democrats
ANDY LEVIN is the right choice for Democratic primary voters in Michigan's 9th District Congressional District.
Levin is running for the seat his father, U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, has held since 1983. Sander Levin is stepping down at the end of this year.
Levin's gold-plated Democratic lineage — besides being the incumbent congressman's son, he is the nephew of retired U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and the grand-nephew of the late U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Levin, for whom the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit is named — have given him a prohibitive advantage in a three-way primary race against former state Rep. Ellen Lipton and former Bloomfield Hills School Board Trustee Martin Brook. Levin's experience as an organizer for both the UAW and the AFL-CIO assures him continued support of the labor unions that were among his father and uncle's most stalwart backers.
Family connections alone would and should not qualify him for elected office. But it is just as unfair to suggest that Levin's heritage should disqualify him from office, or to deny that his name and familiarity with power brokers in Lansing and Washington might confer advantages few freshman members of congress enjoy.
None of which would matter if Levin's background did not make the case for 9th district voters seeking a capable representative in Washington.
The 9th District straddles Macomb and Oakland counties, a broad swath of suburban Detroit. Both Levin and his principal primary opponent, Lipton, are from Oakland County.
A Harvard Law graduate, Levin began his career traveling the country organizing health care workers. He later worked for the AFL-CIO and served on a workers' relations commission under then-President Bill Clinton.
After Jennifer Granholm was elected governor, Levin served as acting director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and the state's chief workforce officer. In that role, he led a massive worker re-training person during and after the 2007-08 recession.
Levin says his experience in state government gave him a ground-level view of the obstacles facing displaced manufacturing industry workers and the complexities of the federal system that can make accessing dollars for job training difficult. If elected, he hopes to make it easier for workers to navigate the state and federal job training opportunities available to them.
After leaving the state, Levin launched Levin Energy Partners, a company that finds public-private partnerships to make clean energy and sustainable building improvements — also important work, particularly as climate change looms.