Rep. Sander Levin (D) has joined the (seemingly unusual) exodus of very long-time Reps. leaving this year. Levin has had a marathon political career, beginning in the State Leigslature in the 60s, through two failed Gov runs in the 70s, before eighteen terms in the House representing a seat that started in Detroit and moved into the northern suburbs. Levin’s decision opens up MI-9, a D+4 district based in the working-class-white southern half of Macomb County and also including some upscale suburbs in Oakland County to the west. The Macomb portion of the district is home to a lot of Democrats who swung toward Trump, but the union tradition and upscale liberals here were enough to keep this seat in the Clinton column with a solid 8-point win.
For Democrats, the Great Mentioner needs to start with Levin’s son Andy (D), who lost a state Senate race in 2006 and later held a low-level post in the Gov. Granholm administration. However, Andy’s only asset is his name and he may have a tough time. From the Macomb side of the district, Macomb CE Mark Hackel (D) would likely be a very strong favorite for the seat if he wanted it. Macomb DA Eric Smith (D) also could be a strong candidate. State Sen. Steven Bieda (D) and State Reps. Patrick Sowerby (D), Patrick Green (D), Henry Yanez (D), John Chirkun (D), and Kevin Hertel (D) all live in or near the seat, as do ex-State Reps. Derek Miller (D), Fred Miller (D), Sarah Roberts (D), and Marilyn Lane (D). From the Oakland side of the seat, State Reps. Robert Wittenberg (D), Jim Ellison (D), and ex-State Rep. Jim Townsend (D) live in or near the seat. Local officials worth watching from the Oakland County part of the seat could include County Treasurer Andy Meisner (D) and DA Jessica Cooper (D). Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown (D) lives outside the seat but could carpetbag.
The seat seems enticing enough for the GOP to at least make a play for it in a year with few offensive targets, though it will be an uphill race for any Republican. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard (R) might be the strongest candidate, but he has turned down other opportunities to run for more GOP-friendly House seats so that seems unlikely. More realistic prospects might be a couple of candidates who lost primary runs for the redder MI-10 in 2016, ex-State Sen. Alan Sanborn (R) and ex-State Rep. Anthony Forlini (R). Republicans have some legislators in or near the seat, State Sens. Jack Brandenburg (R), Tory Rocca (R), and Marty Knollenberg (R), and State Reps. Diana Farrington (R) (and her husband, ex-State Rep. Jeff (R)), and State Reps. Mike McCready (R), Marilyn Howrylak (R), and Steve Marlino (R). Possibilities from local office could include a pair of Macomb county officers who won in something of upsets in 2016, county Treasurer Larry Roca (R) and county Clerk Karen Spranger (R).