Remembering Levitan, a Political Giant In Montgomery County

March 31, 2024

Montgomery Community Media

Long-time Potomac resident and former state legislator Laurence Levitan was known for ‘bringing home the bacon’ by getting numerous projects funded for people in Montgomery County.

Levitan died at a nursing home in Bethesda March 20 after a brief illness. The 90 year-old had congestive heart failure.

His Roots

Levitan was born and raised in Washington, D.C.  He attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. then received his law degree from George Washington University.  He was a successful lawyer and decided to run for the State House of Delegates in 1970.  Levitan served in the House for one term and then ran for the State Senate in 1974 and won.  He represented District 15 for 20 years until losing to Republican Jean Roesser in 1994.  She served in the House of Delegates at the time. During his long Senate career, Levitan became the chairman of the powerful Senate Budget and Taxation Committee holding that position for 16 years.

Reaction from State Legislators

Maryland State Senator Brian Feldman is the current legislator in District 15 which covers parts of Montgomery County.  He announced Levitan’s death on the Senate floor shortly after his passing.

“I am proud to hold the same Senate seat that Larry Levitan once occupied. As the longest serving Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chair in the history of the Maryland Senate, Larry made a huge, positive impact on the lives of all Marylanders. On a personal note, when I first ran for political office, the very first campaign sign to go up was on Larry’s front yard and one of my first acts as a Senator was to secure a sign dedicating a portion of River Road to Larry. Ironically I now live around the corner from that sign which now serves as an almost daily reminder of his legacy,” Feldman said.

Political Legend

State Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17) also represents parts of Montgomery County. She has fond memories of Levitan.

“He was my Senator growing up. He represented the area around Churchill High School. I am a Churchill High School graduate.  I knew his kids growing up, and as I got involved in Montgomery County politics, I remember him as one of the most effective and respected officials in the County,” Kagan told MCM.

“When he was defeated it was an enormous loss to the county and the state of Maryland. He was chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and made sure we had the support for Montgomery County priorities. His defeat had an enormous financial impact on the County,” Kagan added.

Feldman said he first met Levitan in 2000 when he first got interested in local Democratic politics. Levitan was no longer serving in the General Assembly, but he still played a big role in Annapolis because he was now working as a lobbyist.

“I immediately connected with him as we had a lot in common.  We were both lawyers, political junkies, Jewish, and lived in Potomac in the same community. He was super nice, an old school politician who placed a premium on the importance of personal relationships and getting along with everyone, including those on the other side of the political aisle,” Feldman told MCM.

“The Levitans and I went to the same synagogue. Larry was devoted to his wife and kids.  He was just a good person and never let his role as a State Senator or Chair go to his head. He was very down to earth and accessible,” Kagan said.

Lasting Legacy

Long-time residents will remember the impact Levitan  had in the region. He secured billions of state dollars for the County. He was devoted to issues involving education, health care, transportation, the environment, and the arts. His advocacy helped get money to build a helipad at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He helped the push to build a new stadium for the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. He also was involved in getting money to upgrade the Strathmore Hall cultural complex in North Bethesda. These were just a few of the notable projects Levitan passionately fought for during his illustrious political career.

Levitan is survived by his wife of 66 years, Barbara Levitan, three daughters, four grandchildren, a step-granddaughter, and three great grandchildren. The family has requested that memorial donations be made in Levitan’s honor to the Nathlie Levitan Memorial Endowed Scholarship through the Montgomery College Foundation, 900 Hungerford Drive, Rockville Maryland 20850 or another charity of a donor’s choosing.