Milliken endorses Snyder, which may boost effort to woo independents

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder’s efforts to woo independent voters received a boost Tuesday when former Gov. William Milliken endorsed his re-election.

The election in 2010 of Snyder, a former CEO turned politician, was credited in part by the Republican’s ability to secure a coalition of independent and moderate Democratic voters.

Milliken, 92, on Tuesday issued a statement through Snyder’s campaign endorsing the incumbent for a second term over Democrat Mark Schauer of Battle Creek, crediting him with balancing the state budget in timely ways, creating almost 300,000 private-sector jobs and increasing state spending on K-12 schools by more than $1 billion since Snyder took office. He also endorsed Snyder in 2010 over Democratic Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

“Gov. Snyder has shown an outstanding commitment to Michigan’s reinvention through his work to get Michigan back on the right track,” said Milliken, who was governor from 1969 to 1983 and has sometimes endorsed Democrats.

Milliken praised Snyder for his intervention in Detroit’s financial crisis that resulted in Snyder’s appointee, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, having the city file for the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in July 2013.

“Gov. Snyder also has recognized the importance of Detroit to our state’s future and has spent considerable time and effort working to help Detroit get back on its feet,” Milliken said. “His central role in fashioning the ‘Grand Bargain’ that will preserve the great bulk of pensions for city retirees while at the same time preserving one of the state’s true treasures — the Detroit Institute of Arts — was truly a major accomplishment.”

Schauer, a former congressman and state legislator, has routinely said on the campaign trail that voters thought they were electing another Milliken Republican but instead “got Dick DeVos,” a reference to the GOP’s unsuccessful 2006 gubernatorial candidate.

Milliken endorsed Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006 over DeVos as well as backed then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., over President George W. Bush in the 2004 election.

When he endorsed Snyder in 2010, Milliken said he thought Snyder “can help end the bitterness and ugliness” in Michigan’s political discourse.

“I have not always agreed with Gov. Snyder on every issue,” Milliken wrote in this year’s endorsement. “But I believe on the major issues that affect Michigan’s future he has made tough decisions that have truly made Michigan a comeback state.”

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