Michigan's Longest-Serving Governor, William Milliken, Remains Relevant

The right wing of his party once snubbed him, but Michigan’s former governor remains the state’s Grand Old Politician


Published:

(page 1 of 4)

Few people knew anything about venture capitalist Rick Snyder when he began running for governor early last year.

The former Gateway computer executive began winning attention with his “tough nerd” commercial during the Super Bowl. He campaigned aggressively, spending millions of his own money.

Yet, less than two weeks before the August GOP primary, it seemed likely that Snyder would come up short. He was running third behind Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and Pete Hoekstra, a congressman from the heart of west Michigan Dutch country.

Then something dramatic happened. William G. Milliken, the longest-serving governor in Michigan history, emerged from retirement to do something he hasn’t done in years. The Republican former governor turned heads by endorsing a Republican for governor. In the decades since his tenure, he has been largely a pariah within his own party. Conservatives who chafed under his moderate-to-liberal politics and governing style revolted when he decided not to seek re-election in 1982. They bypassed his chosen successor, the late Lt. Gov. James Brickley, and instead nominated Richard Headlee, the brash tax-cutting insurance executive.

Headlee went out of his way to insult Helen Milliken, the governor’s outspoken feminist wife in that campaign, which clearly hurt him with GOP women. He lost, but conservatives who had little use for “Milliken moderates” remained firmly in control of the party.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Web Exclusive: Lennon's Legacy — An Activist's Anniversary

On the anniversary of his death, a web exclusive preview of a tribute concert and and look at John Lennon's legacy.

Web Exclusive: Antietam's Second Course

Eastern Market-area restaurant reopens for business.

Winter Wonderland

More than 5 million LEDs transform a Detroit Zoo stroll into a wild experience

Mercury Rising

Former online business establishes funky bricks-and-mortar Retropolis shop in the not-so-trendy Harper Woods

Conversation Starter

Writer-director Mike Binder hopes his new custody battle film Black or White spurs discussions about race
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Winter wine-derland
    Winery visits can be just as good — if not better — in the off season
  2. Reviving a Classic
    Change of 220 Merrill’s ownership has re-energized one of Birmingham’s longtime favorite...
  3. Girl's Best Friend
    All that glitters isn’t necessarily gold — and diamonds aren’t the only way to add an extra...
  4. Artfully Plated
    One-upping the standard pop-up dinner in one of Detroit’s hidden architectural gems
  5. Brewery Profile - Tapistry Brewing Company
    Since opening in July of 2013, Tapistry Brewing has spent the last year perfecting their recipes...
  6. Upper Crust
    Grosse Pointe Park’s Cornwall Bakery is (finally) open, producing European breads, croissants,...
  7. Winter Wonderland
    More than 5 million LEDs transform a Detroit Zoo stroll into a wild experience
  8. Cold Winter, Hot Sauce
    Locally made condiments bring on the firepower
  9. Polishing a Greasy Spoon
    Rock City Eatery chef/owner elevates burgers and hot dogs at second Hamtramck restaurant, Campau...
  10. Conversation Starter
    Writer-director Mike Binder hopes his new custody battle film Black or White spurs...