Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan announced late Thursday that he will not seek a seventh term in 2014, leaving Democrats with another open seat to defend next year.
Levin called the decision "extremely difficult" and said he wanted to focus on his role as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee "without the distraction of campaigning for reelection."
Levin is the fourth Democratic senator to announce he won't run for reelection — Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia have all announced this will be their last term, and South Dakota's Tim Johnson is considered likely to join them. With the exception of Lautenberg, their departures create a problem for Democrats as they try to retain their majority in the chamber. Had Levin chosen to run, he would have been a heavy favorite, but now Republicans may smell a pickup opportunity.
Michigan Democrats have been readying for a challenge to Gov. Rick Snyder, but they'll now face the added burden of retaining the Senate seat. They've had success in that area, holding both seats in the upper chamber for more than a decade. "We win on the federal level," newly installed Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson said in a phone interview Wednesday, before Levin's announcement.