Within hours, the Democratic candidates that were expected to battle it out for Congressman Sandy Levin’s seat – the incumbent’s son, Andy, and state Sen. Steve Bieda – each made it official today that they are running for the Macomb/Oakland 9th Congressional District seat, which will be open in 2018 for the first time in 36 years.
Andy Levin announced his intentions late this morning and Bieda followed up about three hours later. Congressman Levin announced on Sunday that he is retiring next year at the end of his 18th term in office.
Andy Levin, a Bloomfield Township Democrat, will have a huge name recognition and fundraising advantage – with his father and uncle, former 36-year senator Carl Levin, backing him — but he included a bit of a surprise when he added an endorsement from former Macomb County congressman David Bonior in announcing his candidacy.
That campaign scenario presents a major challenge for Bieda, a Warren Democrat, who has tirelessly attended countless community events for several years in anticipation of this moment.
The all-important August primary in this heavily Democratic district could come down to a grassroots campaign by Bieda up against the Levins’ political dynasty that is capable of raising huge amounts of campaign cash from Washington and across the country.
Andy Levin briefly served as director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth during the final months of the Granholm administration. His campaign – and Bonior – claim that he deserves recognition for creating the largest job training program in America with the “No Job Left Behind” initiative.
In recent years, Levin has created a company specializing in public-private partnerships that renovate buildings with an emphasis on renewable energy upgrades.
But in his only foray into politics in 2008, Levin narrowly lost an Oakland County state Senate race in a favorable year for Democrats.
Levin’s address in an upscale portion of Oakland County may mean little, given his bloodlines, but Bieda will hope to take advantage of the dominance of Macomb County within the district. More than 60 percent of district voters live on the Macomb side of Dequindre Road compared to the southeast Oakland County section of the 9th.
Bieda, a former legislative staffer and state House member, is known in Lansing as a policy wonk who is willing to forge alliances with the Republican majority. He is term-limited and his eight years of Senate service will end next year.
Early indications are that Levin may run to the left of Bieda, as the congressman’s son is emphasizing his past participation in protests and activism on behalf of human rights in South Africa, Haiti, China and Tibet.
Levin may also focus on Michigan’s aging infrastructure as one of his first campaign events will take place on Sunday at the Green Lantern pub located at the site of the Fraser sewer sinkhole, where repairs were just completed.
At this early stage, the mostly likely additional entrant into the Democratic primary is Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner.
On the Republican side, a political newcomer, businesswoman Candius Stearns of Sterling Heights who owns an insurance agency, declared her candidacy for the 9th District seat in October and received the early endorsement of Congressman Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, from the neighboring 10th District.