Gongwer News Service Editor Zach Gorchow calls former Republican governor William Milliken’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President, “As expected as the sun rising in the east.”
Milliken has long criticized the direction of the Republican Party, and has backed Democrats in the past, including John Kerry for President in 2004 and Kalamazoo Democrat Mark Totten for Attorney General two years ago.
Gorchow blogged about the endorsement recently, and questions whether the reaction on both sides of the political aisle isn’t a little out proportion to the actual event. He says activists and professionals who work to get Republicans elected get really upset when Milliken endorses a Democrat. Gorchow says Democrats act like George Washington “came back from the dead to endorse their candidate.” But he wonders if the former governor’s influence isn’t fading a little. Milliken has been out of office for almost 34 years, he’s 94. As Gorchow says, “If you were born after 1960, you never saw his name of a ballot.”
But Gorchow says it should trouble Republicans that someone like Milliken is turned off by their party. He says the GOP needs the votes of people like Milliken (fiscally conservative and socially liberal) to win a statewide election.
The Grand Traverse County Republican Party adopted a resolution declaring that it would no longer recognize the former governor as a Republican. Gorchow says it’s a strong rebuke from the county party in Milliken’s home. But he says it’s important to recognize that the Grand Traverse County Republican party is a much more conservative organization than it was when Milliken was governor.
Even though Milliken has established a pattern of endorsing Democrats, Gorchow says there has been a stronger response this time among Republicans. He says the pure hatred of Hillary Clinton within some factions of the party is driving the resentment toward Milliken. Other Republicans, including Governor Rich Snyder, and Congressmen Fred Upton and Justin Amash have not endorsed Trump. But Gorchow says announcing plans to vote for Hillary Clinton is a step that some Republicans can’t accept.