In response to former Gov. William Milliken’s endorsement of Democrat Hillary Clinton for president, his local GOP organization, the Grand Traverse County Republican Party, passed a resolution on Thursday officially disavowing Milliken.
A resolution passed by the delegates at the Grand Traverse GOP’s convention declares that Milliken’s “status as a Republican (will) be no longer recognized.”
The longest serving governor in Michigan history (1968-82), Milliken, a Traverse City resident, was criticized for several Democratic endorsements: John Kerry for president in 2004, Sen. Gary Peters in 2014, Mark Totten in 2014 for state attorney general, and Gretchen Driskell, a Washtenaw County Democrat running against incumbent GOP Rep. Tim Walberg in the November general election. He also withdrew his support for John McCain when the Arizona senator was running for president against Barack Obama in 2008.
The resolution said that the tipping point was Milliken’s recent endorsement of Clinton, “a known liar, probable felon, and Democrat for president” over Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Former county commissioner Jason Gillman, a Republican precinct delegate, authored the resolution. He said of Milliken, “He only surfaces biannually as a ‘Republican’ to serve as a fifth column, and to do damage to the Republican Party and its candidates.”
The convention heard opposition to the resolution from Gillman’s father Michael Gillman, a GOP delegate and former Traverse City commissioner. The elder Gillman argued passionately against the resolution and for greater inclusivity within the party. Michael Gillman was an appointee of Milliken’s and is a longtime friend of the former governor.
Known as a moderate Republican when he succeeded Gov. George Romney, Milliken’s positions on several issues are considered liberal in today’s GOP and more in tune with the Democrats. The resolution recounts Milliken’s vetoes of abortion funding bills in 1978, 1980, 1981 and 1982.
In essence, the convention delegates agreed that Milliken was found guilty of repeatedly breaking a cardinal rule of the GOP: “The purpose of the Republican Party is to elect Republicans.”