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Lansing — Former Michigan Gov. William Milliken, a Republican who in recent years has increasingly backed Democrats, is endorsing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for president.

Milliken said in a statement he is “saddened and dismayed” the Republican party has nominated businessman Donald Trump, who “has repeatedly demonstrated” that he does not embrace the nation’s “abiding commitments to tolerance, civility, and equality.”

“Because I feel so strongly about our nation’s future, I will be joining the growing list of former and present government officials in casting my vote for Hillary Clinton for President in 2016,” the 94-year-old said. “To me, the choice is clear. The answers to our current challenges lie in unity, and not division.”

Millken’s endorsement comes as Clinton and Trump prepare to contrast their economic agendas this week in Detroit. Trump will speak Monday at a Detroit Economic Club luncheon. Clinton is expected to deliver a jobs speech on Thursday in Detroit, but the time and location have not yet been announced.

Milliken, the longest-serving governor in Michigan history, endorsed Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s re-election bid in 2014 but that same year also backed Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and attorney general candidate Mark Totten, who lost to GOP incumbent Bill Schuette.

Michigan Republican Party spokesman Sarah Anderson said she was not surprised by Milliken endorsing Clinton, saying the former governor was “always moderate” and has increasingly backed Democrats.

“I think it’s news these days when he endorses a Republican,” she said.

Snyder has not endorsed Trump, saying he’s more focused on helping Republicans retain control of the state House this fall. Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley both support the New York businessman, who won Michigan’s March 8 primary and upended the GOP establishment en route to the party nomination.

At the congressional level, six of Michigan’s nine Republican U.S. House members have endorsed Trump. Reps. Fred Upton, Justin Amash and Bill Huizenga have not offered public support.

joosting@detroitnews.com

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