Longtime Sen. Levin to retire

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., speaks during a hearing on 'Harnessing Small Business Innovation: Navigating the Evalaution Process for Gulf Coast Oil Cleanup Proposals' in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Senate Dirksen Building on June 17, 2010 in Washington, DC.
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WASHINGTON Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan says he will not seek re-election in 2014. He says he wants to do his job as Senate Armed Services chairman and as an advocate for his home state "without the distraction of campaigning for re-election."

Levin was first elected to the Senate in 1978 and is the longest-serving senator in Michigan's history. His older brother, Sander Levin, D-Mich., has served in the House since 1983.

The 78-year-old senator said in a statement the decision was "extremely difficult," but vowed to his constituents he will "spend the next two years than to devote all of my energy and attention to taking on" issues like closing tax loopholes, increasing manufacturing and reforming campaign finance.

"I love representing the people of Michigan in the U.S. Senate and fighting for the things that I believe are important to them," he said. 

As he and his wife Barbara "struggled with the question of whether I should run again," Levin continued, "we focused on our belief that our country is at a crossroads that will determine our economic health and security for decades to come. We decided that I can best serve my state and nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us that I am in a position to help address; in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election."

Levin's retirement creates an open seat for Democrats in a state where Republicans have fared well in recent state elections. Democrats have to defend open seats in West Virginia, Iowa and New Jersey in the aftermath of three retirements.