|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from California's 49th district
January 3, 2019
|Born||October 20, 1978|
Inglewood, California, U.S.
|Education||Stanford University (BA)|
Duke University (JD)
Michael Ted Levin (born October 20, 1978) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for California's 49th congressional district since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, his district covers most of northern coastal San Diego County, as well as a portion of southern Orange County. An environmental attorney by occupation, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 election.
Levin was born in Inglewood, California and raised in Lake Forest, California, in South Orange County. His mother is Mexican American and his father is Jewish. Levin was raised in both the Jewish and Catholic faiths. He attended Loyola High School in Los Angeles before attending Stanford University. While at Stanford, Levin served as president of the student body. He attended law school at the Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina, before returning to his native Orange County.
Levin co-founded CleanTech OC, a clean energy trade association in Orange County, and was profiled in an OC Metro "40 Under 40" piece for his work at FlexEnergy, a company that developed a technology to capture and use methane from landfills and wastewater treatment facilities. He was the director of government affairs at FuelCell Energy from 2014 to 2017. He also served as the vice president of Better Energy Systems, a consumer-facing cleantech startup based in Berkeley, California, and on the board of directors of the Center for Sustainable Energy, an environmental organization based in San Diego. In this capacity, Levin opposed the redevelopment of Encina Power Station, arguing that "the proposed Carlsbad plant contradicts the priorities that California has established to reduce pollution across our state as it will use combustion to generate power."
In a commentary published on April 16, 2011, in the Orange County Register, Levin praised California's legislature for taking "bold steps to put our state ... in a leading position for investment and growth" by choosing a clean energy strategy. "There's clear evidence that clean energy drives job creation and investment even in the midst of a recession," he wrote.
On March 8, 2017, Levin announced his run for United States Congress in California's 49th congressional district to replace incumbent Representative Darrell Issa. The district had historically been one of the more Republican districts in Southern California, but redistricting after the 2010 census cut out most of its heavily Republican inland portion, making it significantly more competitive. Issa had nearly been defeated in 2016 as Hillary Clinton carried the district.
At a town hall event that Issa held on March 11, 2017, Levin publicly confronted Issa and mentioned a book he had sent Issa in 2016 entitled Climate Change for Beginners. Levin charged that Issa's solution to climate problems "is to build more natural gas plants and to keep the nuclear energy plants online for longer.... I think that's an unfathomable proposal for a progressive and environmentally-friendly place like San Diego." On January 10, 2018, Issa announced his retirement.
Due to the competitive character of the race as well as the absence of an incumbent, there were 16 candidates on the ballot in the primary. The large number of candidates in the nonpartisan blanket primary led to fears that the Democrats would be locked out of the general election.
In the primary election on June 5, Levin came in second in total votes to Republican State Board of Equalization chairwoman Diane Harkey and advanced to the November general election. This assured that the district would be represented by someone from the Orange County portion of the district, though the 49th is a San Diego district by weight of population. Levin is from San Juan Capistrano, while Harkey is from nearby Dana Point.
Barack Obama endorsed Levin as well as other candidates. Levin was also endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund. He also received the endorsements of the Sierra Club and the National Organization for Women. Levin went on to win the general election, becoming the first Democrat to represent this district since its creation in 1972.
Levin has said that his leading priority as a candidate for the House is "Accelerating Sustainable Energy and Environmental Protection". He wishes to put his district "at the forefront of clean energy economic growth". He believes "strongly in the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is driven by human activity". His other priorities include "Holding Washington Accountable", "Providing Affordable Healthcare Coverage for All", and "Achieving World-Class Education". He opposes efforts "to privatize public education", supports expansion of bilingual instruction, and promises to "advocate for solutions like the College for All Act, which aims to eliminate tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities for students from families that make up to $125,000 per year, and would make community college tuition-free for all income levels".
He has also emphasized his support for Planned Parenthood, "which provides essential preventative and reproductive health care services like cancer screenings, STD testing and low-cost birth control to millions of American women", and for "federal legislation that specifically bans sexual harassment". In addition, he supports an assault weapons ban and "a path to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants".