2017-12-14 / Columns

Michigan’s Political Family Repeats

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

Michigan has a history of family repeats in political office. Among them are the Republican Millikens and Democratic Levins. Now come the Democratic Conyers.

Before William G. Milliken became Michigan’s longest-serving governor (1969-1983), he was a state senator from Traverse City, as were his father and grandfather.

Currently in focus are the Levins of Metro Detroit and the Conyers of Detroit.

Retired Senator Carl Levin of Detroit, Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator (1979-2015) and longtime chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is the brother of longtime U.S. Representative Sander Levin of Royal Oak, who was elected in 1982 and is retiring after assorted party leadership roles.

Sandy Levin, who was the Democratic nominee against Milliken in 1970 and 1974, and has chummy relations with him these days, will teach at the University of Michigan rather than seek reelection.

Levin’s son, Andy Levin, last week said he would seek the Democratic nomination for the Democratic-leading 9th Congressional seat. Also seeking the nomination are state Senator Steve Bieda of Warren and Bloomfield Township lawyer Martin Brook, a former Bloomfield Hills School Board president.

Another possible son in the 2018 congressional mix is Democrat John Conyers III, son of U.S. Representative John Conyers of Detroit, who last week became the first member of Congress to resign after allegations of sexual misconduct.

The congressman, first elected in 1964, was a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and replaced Michigan’s former U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-Dearborn) as the longest-serving member of Congress. Unfortunately, Governor Rick Snyder has decided not to call the election to fill the Conyers vacancy until 11 months from now.

As reported by The Detroit News, Conyers III is not sure he wants to run for what he expects will be a crowded primary in the heavily Democratic district long represented by his father. He plans to make his decision by January.

“I want to talk to the community in Detroit and go from there,” he said.

Also regarding the John Conyers seat is state Senator Ian Conyers, a greatnephew, who said he is running.

Another prominent family factor involved is that among those considering a run for the Conyers seat is state Senator Coleman Young II, son of former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young.

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 Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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