President Obama reacted late Thursday to the announcement  that Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., would not seek reelection in 2014.

“If you’ve ever worn the uniform, worked a shift on an assembly line, or sacrificed to make ends meet, then you’ve had a voice and a vote in Senator Carl Levin,” Obama said in a statement. “No one has worked harder to bring manufacturing jobs back to our shores, close unfair tax loopholes, and ensure that everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

He called Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, “a true champion for all those who serve.”

Levin has held his office, which was considered a safe Democratic seat, since 1979. Republicans say that Levin’s retirement puts the seat back in play.

In a statement, Levin said he decided to retire because he could “best serve my state and nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us that I am in a position to help address; in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election.”