LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Michigan’s Democratic congressional delegation wants to replace the long-time chairman of the state Democratic Party.

Sens. Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow and five members of the U.S. House wrote an open letter to Democrats Tuesday backing Lon Johnson over incumbent Mark Brewer. Brewer has served as party chairman for 18 years and is hoping to be re-elected later this month.

But support from some heavy-hitters is growing for Johnson, who the five call the right leader who “will bring to the party vision, energy, and a commitment to collaboration.”

Jonson lost a state House election in northern Michigan in 2012. His wife, Julianna Smoot, was deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

Obama and Stabenow won in Michigan, but Republicans kept control of state government. Congressional Democrats aren’t happy about losses at state and local levels that culminated with GOP passage of a right-to-work law.

The letter reads, in part, “In 2012 we were able to achieve some important victories. Unfortunately, we suffered disappointing State losses and we now face many challenges in Michigan with the actions of the Governor, the State legislature and the Michigan Supreme Court. We have a lot of work to do together to change this dynamic and win at the state and local levels.

We believe that the combination of challenges and opportunities that dramatically confront Michigan Democrats today have called on us as elected Democrats to urge a new and inclusive chapter in MDP leadership.” View a copy of the letter (.pdf format).

Having served as party chairman for 18 years, Brewer told WWJ Newsradio 950 that he will still seek re-election later this month.

“I’m not going to speculate about motivations behind that. I plan to run on my record, and what I’ve done as State Party Chair, and whatr my vision is for the future,” Brewer said.

Brewers said he has the support of roughly half of Michigan’s County Democratic Party Chairs — along with strong grass roots support.

For his part, Johnson says he’s grateful for the support of the entire Michigan Congressional delegation. He also says the Dems have a lot of work to do.

“Like many Democrats I’m frustrated that the gains we continuously make on the national level haven’t been replicated at the state level. We have no choice but to pick ourselves up and seek new ways to win a the ballot box,” Johnson said.

“This is the Michigan Democratic Party, this is our party, and what we need to do is figure out, how do we win? What we need to do is have a debate about who’s best to take us into 2014,” he said.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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