Mitt Romney has been endorsed by Michigan’s current governor, Republican Rick Snyder. I’m not sure it will mean much, but in a Republican primary it’s probably at worse a net even, and more likely a net positive. But I started thinking this morning, there’s a very symbolic endorsement that I hadn’t heard Romney tout. I looked online, and I could find no evidence that this former Republican heavyweight and one of Michigan’s most admired citizens has endorsed in the Republican presidential primary. Maybe, at age 89, he’s not in good health, although I’ve heard stories from just a few years ago about how he walks on the track at Traverse City High School almost every night. And he’s endorsed Republicans in recent years, including John McCain in 2008 and Synder in 2010.
I’m not talking about Michigan’s mean-spirited three-term Republican governor John Engler. No, I’m talking about Michigan’s longest-serving governor, and one of its greatest governors, William Milliken.
Milliken may not have much clout in today’s Republican party–he’s tolerant, kind, pro-choice, has spoken out in favor of rights for lesbians and gays, had good relations with organized labor, an excellent relationship with long-time Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, and was one of the nations greatest environmentalist governors. He also endorsed John Kerry over George W Bush in 2004. But Milliken is still revered by most Michiganders who remember his 14 year tenure. But what is most embarrassing for Romney is that Milliken was George Romney’s lieutenant governor and became governor when the elder Romney became Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
I would say I hope some reporter traveling with Romney would ask him his thoughts on not being endorsed by his father’s running mate and sucessor. But since Romney hasn’t taken questions from reporters in two weeks, I doubt anyone will get the opportunity.