Looking at him you wouldn’t know it, but William G. Milliken, Michigan’s longest-serving governor, turned 90 last week.The full column will be posted once the newspaper publishes.
And for the wondering minds out there, his middle name, Grawn, is the same name that adorns Grawn Hall on the campus of Central Michigan University, where his maternal grandfather, Charles Grawn, was president for 18 years.
Milliken, who became acting governor in 1969 when George Romney left the governor’s mansion to assume a position in the cabinet of President Richard Nixon, was thrice elected — 1970, 1974, 1978 — in his own right. And because Michigan’s governors are now constitutionally limited to two, four-year terms, Milliken will presumably keep his record for the ages.
Since leaving office, Milliken’s name has been invoked countless times by politicians looking to associate themselves with middle-of-the-road ticket-splitters.
“He’s where most Americans are on the issues,” said Inside Michigan Politics editor Bill Ballenger, a political grandee who served in the Legislature, unsuccessfully ran for the federal Senate and was a Milliken appointee.
But Ballenger found irony in many Democrats styling themselves as the heirs to Milliken, saying: “They sit around saying how terrible these modern Republicans are because they are so conservative, but they tried to screw Milliken and the Republicans every chance they could get.”
— Dennis Lennox