Oh my: Carl Levin to retire next year

Thirty-five years is a looooong time, but I bet he would have stuck around if he thought O’s master plan to get the House back in Democratic hands next year had a real shot of working. It’d be worth running again to him if he could spend the next two years pushing the liberal dream agenda through Congress and onto Obama’s desk. As it is, since in reality he’s staring at two more years of gridlock, why bother? Especially considering that he’s chairman of the Armed Services Committee and will face endless headaches related to cutting the Pentagon’s budget. And, er, to dealing with Chuck Hagel.

Second look at a Republican-controlled Senate?

Levin would have been heavily favored to win another term heading into 2014. The six-term senator has not faced a tough contest in almost three decades: He has won with at least 57 percent of the vote since his first re-election in 1984.

It’s unlikely — but not impossible — that the race for Levin’s successor will be competitive. In 2012, President Barack Obama won the Wolverine State by 9 points. In fact, a GOP presidential nominee has not won Michigan since 1988, and the state has only elected one Republican — former Sen. Spencer Abraham in 1994 — to a single term since 1972…

Republicans on the ground stress that in off-year presidential cycles, their candidates do well in statewide campaigns. Democrats admit that the seat is more competitive without Levin, but are bullish – especially if the GOP produces a tea party candidate.

Michigan is reliably blue in presidential elections but not in statewide races. The governor’s seat and both chambers of the legislature are controlled by the GOP. This is, potentially, gettable — which is why, as soon as I heard the news, I had the same thought as DrewM (minus the fatalism at the end):

Yep. Amash, a libertarian in the Ron-n-Rand mold, has said before that he’s “intrigued” at the thought of running for Senate. He certainly wanted to be there yesterday:

A Republican operative who follows Michigan politics told NRO last month that he thought Amash would jump in if Levin retired. From the same article: “Amash’s consideration is alarming to Michigan Republicans, who are hoping to back a more established candidate, especially if Levin retires and the seat opens.” If Karl Rove’s new group really is angling to neutralize tea-party candidates in purplish districts to clear the way for more centrist Republicans, wading in to stop Amash is a natural move. (The “establishment” candidate could be Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Attorney General Bill Schuette, or House Intel Committee Chair Mike Rogers.) The question is, do Amash’s youth and libertarianism mean he’ll play better or worse with independents and young voters than a typical Republican in a blue state like Michigan? The fact that he joined the abortive House insurrection against Boehner in January will come in handy in running for Senate, as it’ll enhance his tea-party cred in the primary and distance him from the sour GOP brand in the general. To see what he’s up against, though, read this piece from last month in MLive quoting local political analysts various and sundry dumping on his chances. Exit question: Cruz versus Dewhurst II? Your move, Karl.