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Former Michigan Sen. Carl Levin dead at 87

Former Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving senator, died Thursday at age 87.

Levin’s family and the Levin Center at Wayne State University confirmed his death in an announcement late Thursday.

“He had a penchant for seeing the world through the eyes of people who struggled against injustice and was called to hold our democratic institutions accountable to everyone – first as a student activist, then as a young defense attorney, Detroit City Council member, and U.S. Senator,” the statement said.

The announcement didn’t include a cause of death, but Levin had been fighting lung cancer, The Detroit Free Press stated.

The Democrat, who retired in 2015 after 36 years in the Senate, was known as a supporter of the auto industry, who pushed against anti-tax havens and supported gun control and stem-cell research.

President Jimmy Carter, center, lifts the hands of Carl Levin, left, U.S. Senate candidate, and William Fitzgerald, Democratic gubernatorial nominee for Michigan at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at the IMA Hall in Flint, Michigan on Nov. 3, 1978.
President Jimmy Carter, center, lifts the hands of Carl Levin, left, US Senate candidate, and William Fitzgerald, Democratic gubernatorial nominee for Michigan at a “Get Out The Vote” rally at the IMA Hall in Flint, Michigan on Nov. 3, 1978.
Dennis Cook/AP

Former President Barack Obama said in 2013 of Levin that “no one has worked harder to bring manufacturing jobs back to our shores, close unfair tax loopholes and ensure that everyone plays by the same set of rules,” The Associated Press reported.

“If you’ve ever worn the uniform, worked a shift on an assembly line, or sacrificed to make ends meet, then you’ve had a voice and a vote in Sen. Carl Levin,” Obama said.

A chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Levin went against the grain in 2002 and voted against authorizing military action in Iraq. He said President George W. Bush’s administration had “written the book on how to mismanage a war,” according to the AP – although he later backed the 2009 troop escalation in Afghanistan under President Barack Obama.

Levin was born in Detroit on June 28, 1934, and worked as a taxi driver and at an auto manufacturing plant in his youth. He carried his auto union card in his wallet for years – until the wallet was stolen, the AP said. His brother, Sandar Levin, served as a member of Congress.

A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard and an attorney, Carl Levin was elected to the Detroit City Council in 1969 and US Senate in 1978.

Carl Levin watches during the unveiling of a photo of the USS Carl M. Levin during a ceremony on April 11, 2016, in Detroit.
Carl Levin at the unveiling of a photo of the USS Carl M. Levin during a ceremony on April 11, 2016, in Detroit.
Carlos Osorio/AP

Tributes poured in for the former senator after news of his death circulated.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Levin a champion for the state.

“Carl paved the way for a safer planet, helped pass several nuclear weapons and missile treaties, and spoke out courageously against entering the war in Iraq,” she said in a statement.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich after the former president signed the farm bill in 2014.
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich after the former president signed the farm bill in 2014.
Carlos Osorio/AP

Rep. Andy Levin, his nephew, tweeted that his uncle was the picture of “sober purpose and rectitude” who would walk around the Capitol in a “rumpled suit, almost always with a plain white shirt and pedestrian tie, carrying bulging files with the occasional paper flying away.”

“Uncle Carl met with more presidents, kings, queens and other important people than all but a few of us ever will,” Rep. Levin said.

“But he treated them all the same as he did a Detroit autoworker or a beet farmer in Michigan’s Thumb – with a full measure of dignity but no airs, ever ready to puncture self-importance, posturing, mendacity and avarice.”

Levin is survived by his wife Barbara, three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Carl Levin, left, walks with United Auto Workers President Ron Ron Gettelfinger during the Labor Day parade in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 5, 2005.
Carl Levin, left, walks with United Auto Workers President Ron Ron Gettelfinger during the Labor Day parade in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 5, 2005.
Carlos Osorio/AP
Carl Levin holds a ten dollar bill stamped on the reverse with "not to be used for buying elections" during an election night party in Detroit on Nov. 4, 2014.
Carl Levin holds a ten dollar bill stamped on the reverse with “not to be used for buying elections” during an election night party in Detroit on Nov. 4, 2014.
Carlos Osorio/AP
Then-Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, left, confers with Jeff Sessions as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appear before the panel to examine President Barack Obama's strategy to combat Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014.
Then-Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, left, confers with Jeff Sessions on Capitol Hill in 2014.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

With Post wires



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