Several Democrats back Levin for ranking member on Ways and Means

Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), who won close reelection bids, backed Levin for the ranking spot based on his overall leadership, crediting the chairman with raising money and traveling the country for the midterm elections.  

"He devoted himself fully and completely to retaining the majority — traveling, sponsoring events, visiting districts, contributing and raising money — with a single-minded focus," they wrote in a letter to colleagues.

"We are grateful for his assistance and we think it speaks volumes about his leadership."

So far, Levin is competing against Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who is fifth in line to take the ranking spot. 

Since Levin took over the post earlier this year, after then-Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) agreed to temporarily step down under an ethics cloud, Neal has said he would make a bid to run the committee regardless of whether or not the Democrats held the majority in the House. 

Neal waited to announce his decision about a bid until Rangel's ethics investigation was complete. Last week, the ethics panel recommended that the former chairman be censured by the full House for 11 counts of violating ethics rules.