LANSING (WWJ) Michigan’s longest serving U.S. Senator, Democrat Carl Levin, officially said farewell today to the office he has occupied the last 36 years.

Levin, 80, was chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee and was named by “Time Magazine” as one of the nation’s best senators in 2006.

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Levin’s farewell speech was at times emotional, reports WWJ’s Jayne Bower.

“I thank the chair, I thank my dear friends, the leaders of this body,” Levin said, his voice cracking. A round of applause erupted as he regathered his composure.

Levin used most of his 20 minute speech to thank his colleagues and his Michigan constituents. Levin also urged the Senate to fix the Senate rules.

“I believe the excessive use of filibuster in the confirmation of President Obama’s nominees was damaging to the Senate and to the nation,” Levin said, adding any president, Republican or Democrat, should have the ability to choose his own team.

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Levin started his political career here in Detroit where he was elected to the City Council in 1968.

Now, Levin added he looks forward to reading about the Senate’s progress while sitting on a Lake Michigan beach with his wife and grandchildren.

He announced his retirement earlier this year. Fellow Democrat Gary Peters was elected last month to replace Levin.

His older brother Sander Levin will carry on the family tradition in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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