Carl Levin

White House press office

The president’s speech last night on Syria is drawing mixed reactions from Michigan’s Congressional delegation.

Senator Carl Levin says the president “made a forceful and persuasive case” for confronting the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.    The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee says Congress should approve a resolution authorizing the use of force against Syria as a way of supporting diplomatic efforts.

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Michigan’s congressional delegation is weighing in on the President’s call for congressional authorization for military action in Syria.

Michigan’s senior U.S. Senator says he’s glad the President is seeking congressional approval for a military strike against Syria.

In a written statement, Democratic Senator Carl Levin says “A congressional vote to authorize the use of force would strengthen the President’s decision to take military action.” Levin adds the President should also use this time to help the Syrian people “defend themselves”.

NPR

Michigan’s two U.S. Senators say the Obama administration should act cautiously to calls to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt.

The U.S. sends $1.5 billion in Military and Economic aid to the Egyptian government.

Critics say all U.S. aid should be cut in response to the Egyptian military’s overthrow of the elected government and the clashes involving the Muslim Brotherhood that has followed.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says the situation needs further review before taking action to shut down the aid to Egypt.

Danielle Lynch / Flickr

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Legislation under consideration in Congress would designate about 32,500 acres within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as wilderness.

Danielle Lynch / Flickr

On Wednesday, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill that brings Congress one step closer to declare a portion of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, some 32,557 acres,  as a "wilderness area."

Though the Sleeping Bear Dunes is already protected, it hasn't been declared a wilderness area yet.

Congress can designates wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Wilderness areas try erase any trace of human activity. These designations can be controversial when some believe human history in the area should be preserved. The National Park Service has faced situations like this in the past.

The bill was sponsored by Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, and will affect almost half of the 35 miles of National Lakeshore.

This week on It's Just Politics, it's all about the art of the campaign announcement.

This morning Congressman Mike Rogers surprised no one when he told the world, or, at least, the state of Michigan, that he will not be a candidate to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy created by the retirement of Carl Levin in 2014. Rogers says he has too much on his plate as the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. And, there’s truth to that: Syria, Iran, and North Korea, not to mention the renewed scrutiny over how the U.S. gathers intelligence.  A very competitive U.S. doesn’t fit well with those big responsibilities.

We should point out Mike Rogers could not do that job if he didn’t live in the safely Republican 8th Congressional District, nicely drawn for him courtesy of the Michigan Legislature’s GOP majorities. Rogers hasn’t had a tough race since his first congressional race in 2000. That race against Democrat Dianne Byrum a dozen years ago was one of the closest in the country. But that’s not a problem for Rogers anymore. He probably has this seat for as long as he wants it.

Rogers let us know his plans via e-mail, which is how it’s done these days. Earlier this month, Republican Terri Lynn Land announced her U.S. Senate plans (she’s in) on Twitter. And, former-Michigan Congressman Mark Schauer did the same thing; filed his papers to run for Governor as a Democrat and, then, Tweeted it.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss Medicaid expansion in Michigan, immigration reform and how it could affect struggling Michigan cities, and the race for Senator Carl Levin’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

Ever since U.S. Senator Carl Levin announced three months ago that he wouldn't seek another term next year, most Michigan Republicans have been waiting for Godot.

Except in this case, Godot is Brighton area Congressmen Mike Rogers, who most GOP leaders felt would be their strongest candidate. Rogers has been unable or unwilling to decide, however, and it seems increasingly unlikely that he will run.

He has a safe seat in Congress and a powerful and prestigious position as chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Giving all that up for a risky run for a seat in a state where Democrats usually win U.S. Senate contests might not seem that appealing. But I’ve never felt Rogers was the Republicans' strongest potential candidate. I think their best chance to win is the woman who announced her candidacy this week, Terri Lynn Land.

Courtesy: Free Amir / Freeamir.org

626 days and counting. That’s how long a young Iranian-American man from Flint has been in police custody in Tehran.

Two years ago, Amir Hekmati traveled to Iran to visit his grandmother. Iranian officials accused Hekmati of spying for the CIA, seizing the ex-Marine and throwing him into prison.

In January 2012, Hekmati was sentenced to death for his alleged conspiring with the U.S. government.

Later, the Iranian Supreme Court overturned his sentence, but Hekmati is still waiting in prison for a retrial — with no apparent end in sight.

But Hekmati’s family, based in Michigan, hasn’t stopped fighting for Amir’s release.

Since his arrest in 2011, Amir’s family has posted pictures in Times Square, hosted art exhibitions in Detroit, and urged state officials in Washington to move on the case.

“We’re not getting a lot of movement from Iran,” Amir’s sister Sarah Hekmati told us on Stateside. “But we’re trying to raise awareness of the situation.”

Gary Peters / Facebook

It's been nearly two months since U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) announced he would not seek a seventh term.

That announcement sets up one of the biggest political questions in Michigan: who will take over his seat in 2014?

Last week , three-time Congressman Gary Peters announced he will run for Levin's seat. Democrats say Peters gives them a strong candidate.

Republicans say the Congressman has supported left-leaning policies that have become unpopular in Michigan.

Congressman, and now Senate candidate, Gary Peters joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

  Who might be the Republicans' best hope of winning Michigan's Senate seat?

Republican strategist Dennis Lennox joined us today.

We asked him why a Republican hasn't jumped into the race yet and who their ideal candidate might be.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

“Today is a big day to start.  But the start of what’s going to be a long campaign.”

With that, suburban Detroit Congressman Gary Peters informally launched his bid for the United States Senate today in Rochester.   A formal campaign kickoff is planned for this fall. 

The Bloomfield Township Democrat  is hoping to succeed Senator Carl Levin who is retiring from the Senate after six terms in Washington.

Peters says his business background as a financial planner helped prepare him for Washington.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's has been expected, and now it is official.

In an e-mail to supporters today, this logo was at the top:

Debbie Dingell decides against 2014 US Senate run

Apr 20, 2013
Wayne State University

Democratic national committeewoman Debbie Dingell says she has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate seat that opened up with Carl Levin's impending retirement.

Official portrait

Update 4:50 p.m.

Sen. Levin's office says as a precaution, the Saginaw office will remain closed until further notice. In a statement, Levin said: 

“Law enforcement officials are performing tests on the suspicious letter that was delivered to my Saginaw office. We do not expect to learn at least a preliminary result of those tests until late tonight or tomorrow. The staffer who discovered the letter is being kept overnight at a local hospital for precautionary reasons, but has no symptoms. We do not know yet if the letter has any connection to suspicious mail sent to other public officials. I want to repeat how grateful I am to local, state and federal authorities who reacted so quickly and professionally, and especially to my Saginaw staff for being so vigilant."

4:35 p.m.

An FBI spokesman says the incident is still under investigation, but that people were allowed to return to the building a little after 3 p.m.

1:15 p.m.

Senator Carl Levin's office in Saginaw was evacuated this morning after a staffer received a suspicious-looking letter.

The letter was unopened and authorities still don't know whether it presented a threat, Levin wrote in a statement.

"Earlier today, a staffer at my Saginaw regional office received a suspicious-looking letter," he wrote. "The letter was not opened, and the staffer followed the proper protocols for the situation, including alerting the authorities, who are now investigating. We do not know yet if the mail presented a threat. I’m grateful for my staff’s quick response and for government personnel at all levels who are responding."

Levin is in Washington, D.C. today. Two staffers work in the Saginaw office.

Authorities in Washington are investigating suspicious packages sent to President Barack Obama and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R) that contained traces of the poison ricin.

Capitol Police are also investigating other suspicious packages found in Senate office buildings surrounding the Capitol.

- Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The new leader of the Michigan Democratic Party says it has time to agree on top-flight candidates to replace Sen. Carl Levin and take on Gov. Rick Snyder.

Lon Johnson told The Associated Press that he takes exception to the notion that Snyder is safe because no Democrats have stepped forward to run for governor and the party has to focus on holding Levin's seat.

Last week, Senator Carl Levin announced that he won’t run again next year. Ever since, politicians have been talking nearly nonstop about who will be.

When I woke up yesterday morning, the only one it seemed safe to declare out of the race was former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who seems certain to be in federal prison.

Other than that, in terms of speculation, anything goes. Until yesterday, that is, when Scott Romney, older brother of the defeated presidential candidate, took himself out as well.

Romney, a former MSU trustee, said something revealing. While he was flattered to be considered, he added, “I’m happy with my life.”  That was probably more revealing than he meant it to be.

In my opinion, nobody who is truly happy with their life would run for a major office these days. Anyone seeking to replace Carl Levin has to expect a year and a half of endless travel, endless media scrutiny, and anywhere from two to six candidates in your own party doing anything they can to run you down.

Detroit has one more day to avoid an emergency manager

"The Detroit city council has one more day to put the final touches to its arguments to avert a state takeover. An appeal hearing is scheduled for tomorrow before a state treasury official, who will forward a recommendation to Governor Rick Snyder," Rick Pluta reports.

Mike Rogers considers running for Levin's Senate seat

"Republican U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers says he's seriously considering running for the Michigan U.S. Senate seat that Democrat Carl Levin is vacating next year. The 78-year-old Levin announced Thursday that he wouldn't run again when his current term expires in 2014," the Associated Press reports.

Snyder announces March as "Michigan Maple Syrup Month"

"Gov. Rick Snyder has declared March "Michigan Maple Syrup Month" in honor of the industry's contribution to the state economy. According to the state, Michigan ranks seventh in the U.S. with an average yearly maple syrup production of about 100,000 gallons," the Associated Press reports.

Romney's older brother interested in Levin seat

Mar 9, 2013

The older brother of presidential candidate Mitt Romney is interested in running for the Michigan Senate seat being vacated by Carl Levin in 2014.

A state GOP official said Friday that Scott Romney, 71, is exploring his options with potential supporters. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly about specific candidates.

An attorney, Scott Romney lost the 1998 nomination for attorney general at the Michigan Republican Party's convention. One of his ex-wives, Ronna, ran for the Senate in 1996 but lost to Levin.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

Each Saturday, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry look at some of the top regional news stories of the week.

Carl Levin won't run for re-election

We got a political bombshell this week when U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) said he won't run for re-election next year. But Lessenberry says this wasn't entirely unexpected. He expects a lot of people to run for Levin's seat including Congressman Gary Peters and Congressman Mike Rodgers.

Detroit prepares for an emergency manager

The Detroit City Council says "not so fast" when it comes to the governor’s appointment of an emergency manager. Mayor Bing says it's too late to resist the appointment. It's just going to happen. Lessenberry says the City Council may well appeal, but he doesn't expect the Governor to reverse his decision. "They are doing a pro-forma thing mainly for political consumption."

A challenge to Michigan's same-sex marriage ban

The discussion of same-sex marriage in Michigan was put on hold after it looked like a federal judge might make a ruling on Michigan’s constitutional amendment. Lessenberry says "no one can really fault U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman for doing this because the U.S. Supreme Court is going to rule on a case in California on a similar law."  He says that way Friedman can craft a ruling that isn't in conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. He joins us Saturday mornings to review the week’s top news stories.

Pages