2017-11-02 / Columns

Milliken and Levin Go Way Back

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

One of the most interesting relationships in Michigan politics has been between 1969-1983 Republican Governor William G. Milliken and Oakland County Democratic U.S. Representative Sander Levin, a former state senator first elected to Congress in 1982.

In the 1970 and 1974 gubernatorial elections, Levin narrowly lost to Milliken, who became Michigan’s longest-serving governor, yet they became buddies and remain in occasional touch.

Milliken noted last week as reports surfaced that Levin, 86, might retire: “He’s a good man. He would be missed. I respect him, even though we ran against each other.”

The comments are especially worthy of note since both are from families of longstanding in Michigan politics.

Milliken’s father and grandfather were state senators before he was. Levin is the brother of recent Senator Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest serving.

Sander Levin’s son, Andy, has pondered running for Congress if his father does not run again, but says he is seriously considering, and near a decision, on running for governor in 2018.

There already is a diverse Democratic field for governor, led in the minds of many, by former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer. There’s also former Detroit health department director Abdul El-Sayed, Ann Arbor entrepreneur Shri Thanedar, and former Xerox executive Bill Cobbs.

Andy Levin, in The Detroit News, said: “I think we have a number of great people in the race. Politics is about who the right candidate is at the right time, so I am just trying to figure out what our best shot is.”

Levin, founder of a company that develops private-public partnerships for clean energy, was a deputy in the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and became the final department director in the administration of Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm.

He said: “We really need to have a big focus on creating good jobs and making sure people are training for those jobs.”

Kid Rock Rejects Senate Run

Although he long appeared to toy with the idea and generated a stream of ink about it, entertainer Kid Rock said last week he is not running to challenge Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow’s bid for a fourth term. In fact, according to the Detroit Free Press, he mocked those who took the idea seriously.

“I’m not running for the Senate,” he said. “Are you kidding me?”

The fact is, he kidded us with a long tease.

So far, Republicans who are not kidding as Stabenow challengers are retired Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young and Farmington Hills businessman John James.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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