This is an excerpt of a column I wrote for Dome Magazine.
By Chad Selweski
It appears that the Levin political dynasty in Michigan will live on.
After serving in Congress for 36 years, retiring Rep. Sandy Levin, a Royal Oak Democrat, seemed to face a backlash months ago in response to his wish to have his son, Andy, succeed him. An intense three-way fight took shape to fill his seat in the heavily Democratic 9th Congressional District, which takes in portions of Oakland and Macomb counties in the Detroit suburbs.
But the younger Levin’s chief Democratic opponent, state Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren, abruptly dropped out of the race in April to make a run for Macomb County clerk. Andy Levin’s secondary Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Ellen Lipton of Huntington Woods, has waged an expensive race while gaining little traction.
With the Aug. 7 Michigan primary approaching, a recent poll shows Levin, of Bloomfield Township, with an overwhelming lead of 51-12 percent over Lipton. The July 9-12 survey, commissioned by the Levin campaign, was conducted by prominent Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, based in Washington.
At the same time, Levin has covered all the bases with a wide range of campaign endorsements. A former union organizer, he has the backing of 18 labor groups, including the UAW, AFL-CIO and Teamsters. Ten current and former members of Congress have endorsed him, along with former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. His 9th District supporters include eight state House members and about three dozen local elected officials.
Lipton’s strongest backing comes from rank-and-file teachers and two national groups, EMILY’s List, which assists female Democratic candidates for Congress, and 314 Action, which hopes to pump millions of dollars into campaign ads for “pro-science” candidates.
After months of campaigning, the Levin name still lingers as an overwhelming factor, and it is especially potent in Macomb County, where a long history of voter support for candidates based on their surnames is quite evident. In addition to his father, Levin’s lineage includes his uncle, Carl Levin, who was the longest-serving U.S. senator in Michigan history, at 36 years.
Still, Lipton is giving the younger Levin a run for his money as she has compiled a $1 million campaign war chest, including nearly $300,000 of her own money. The underdog has been outspending Levin on broadcast TV ads and campaign literature. Levin, who’s playing catch-up, has raised $864,000. While Lipton remains a relative unknown among 9th District Democratic voters – 30 percent are still undecided – she has relied on grassroots “Meet and Greet” events to get her name out.
Yet, one can easily imagine a full-court press by the Levin brothers in these final weeks if Lipton appears to be closing the gap.
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