Milliken endorses Totten in AG’s race

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Former Gov. William Milliken is endorsing Democrat Mark Totten for attorney general over fellow Republican and incumbent Bill Schuette.

Milliken’s backing of Totten — a Michigan State University law professor from Kalamazoo — marks his second endorsement of a Democrat this election cycle.

Last week, Democrat Gary Peters announced he received Milliken’s endorsement over his Republican rival, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. Milliken is supporting Gov. Rick Snyder’s bid for a second term against Democrat Mark Schauer.

“As I have come to know Mark Totten, I have found him to be an outstanding individual who is highly qualified to be Michigan’s attorney general,” Milliken said in a statement.

With the Senate and governor’s race capturing most of the spotlight this fall, recent polling data suggests the race for attorney general remains competitive.

A Detroit News-WDIV (Channel 4) survey of 600 likely voters conducted Sept. 3-5 found Schuette holding a narrow two-point lead over Totten, 40 percent to 38 percent, which was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

As reasons for his endorsement, Milliken cited Totten’s “landmark research” in consumer protection and experience “as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office” in Grand Rapids, but did not mention that Totten was an unpaid volunteer prosecutor in that role.

Milliken, 92, a moderate Republican who was governor from 1969 to 1983, has a history of bucking GOP candidates in favor of Democrats. In 2006, he backed Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s re-election bid over Republican businessman Dick DeVos. He also endorsed John Kerry for president in 2004 over incumbent Republican George W. Bush.

Republicans contend Totten’s resume is too thin to be the state’s chief law enforcement officer.

“Attorney General Schuette likes Gov. Milliken and respects his service, but seeing Mr. Totten stakes his candidacy on being a prosecutor, I wonder if Mr. Totten told Gov. Milliken that he has never once convicted a criminal in trial court and never once held a paid job as a prosecutor,” said John Sellek, campaign manager for Schuette.

In the past week, Schuette has secured the endorsements of the Detroit Police Officers Association and the Retired Detroit Police and Firefighters Association. Both groups cited Schuette’s defense of their pensions in Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Schuette has dropped his opposition to cuts to Detroit retiree pensions after members of both city pension funds voted in favor of modest reductions in their monthly checks.

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