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.

Archive »Related Content

Autumn Appeal

Taking advantage of Michigan’s huge apple harvest with a bushel basket full of recipes

King of the Castle

Comedy and charitable causes shine at Mark Ridley’s landmark venue

The Snug is Still Jammin'

Popular Midtown gathering place T.J.’s gets ready for a 50th anniversary

Inspired Interpretations

Bridal fashions for the gown - and wedding - of your dreams

Into the Deep

n an underwater world of mystery and intrigue, an enchanting creature reveals the season's most covetable treasures

Most Popular

  1. Milford Craft Beer Week
    Raise your glass to local brews during the week of festivities
  2. Recap of the U.P. Fall Beer Fest: From Pale Ales to Pastie Beers
  3. 10th Annual Harvest Moon Celebration Is Serving Up Michigan Beer
    Downtown Farmington hosts the Harvest Moon Celebration Sept. 18-20.
  4. Ours and Theirs: Lake Michigan Shore
    Southwestern Michigan winemakers, winery owners weigh in on ‘must-try’ wines
  5. Hour Detroit’s Best Dressed Celebration 2014
  6. Autumn Appeal
    Taking advantage of Michigan’s huge apple harvest with a bushel basket full of recipes
  7. 2014 Top Docs: Transforming Medicine
    The list containing the winners of our 15th annual Top Docs survey and accompanying medical stories.
  8. Movin' On Up
    Southfield bachelor renovates outdated condo to create a high-rise home for his art collection...
  9. Floating Over Fall
    Michigan’s autumn colors dazzle from any angle,but a breezy hot air balloon flight offers a...
  10. Top of their League
    Distinct and carefully done Italian food makes the reviving Corktown neighborhood’s Ottava Via...