Jan 13, 2008

McCain continues to rack up important Michigan endorsements

Sen. John McCain picked up some interesting endorsements last week in Michigan, including prominent state newspapers and Michigan politicians.

Polls show McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney are neck-and-neck here as the primary fast approaches. McCain already won the nod of Michigan’s two largest newspapers with the endorsement of the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, and on Sunday he added the Jackson Citizen Patriot and the Livingston County Daily Press and Argus to the endorsement tally.

The Citizen Patriot said this about McCain, “Fundamentally, he is a straight shooter who has stood by our involvement in Iraq and the need for immigration reform even if it has cost him votes.” The Citizen Patriot is owned by Advance Publications, the same company that owns the Ann Arbor News, the Bay City Times, the Flint Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, the Kalamazoo Gazette, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Saginaw News.

The Press & Argus endorsement is not surprising because it is owned by Gannett, which also owns the Detroit Free Press. The P & Argus said McCain “is a solid conservative whose views resonate with Livingston County Republicans. He is a pragmatic, tested politician who will forge necessary alliances, whether with Democrats when bipartisan solutions are needed or with other nations in battling terrorism.”

McCain also picked up the endowments of one of Michigan’s most respected political leaders on Thursday with the announcement that former Gov. William G. Milliken is endorsing him. Milliken also endorsed McCain in 2000 that helped put McCain over the top in Michigan against then Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Milliken is respected among moderates of both political parties.

According to a column written by syndicated columnist George Weeks – a former Milliken press secretary- in Milliken's hometown paper the Traverse City Record Eagle, Milliken had this to say about McCain, "I have long admired Senator McCain for his straight talk and service to the country. There's a real sense of integrity in the firm positions he takes, even though they are not always popular. I don't agree with him on all issues, but I like his well-earned reputation of saying what he means, and meaning what he says."

Milliken served as the Michigan governor from 1969 to 1982. He served as Lt. Governor with former Gov. George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, from 1964-1969 until the senior Romney resigned to run for the Republican nomination for President in 1969. The endorsement of someone who served with his father cannot bode well for the junior Romney.

Livingston County’s Michigan Legislative delegation is split on their endorsements. A letter to the editor in the P & A co-signed by state Sen. Valde Garcia, Rep. Joe Hune, as well as the chair of the Livingston County Republican Party and the county sheriff, endorses Romney.

But an even more bizarre letter to the editor appeared in the P & A from Rep. Chris Ward, R-Genoa Township endorsing McCain. The apparent flip-flop has Ward apparently flopping back to McCain.

Ward was one of four state representatives from Michigan to serve as legislative co-chairs of the McCain campaign in September 2006, and Ward was also named co-chair of the Straight Talk America Michigan Legislative Advisory Team. But Ward announced in June 2007 he was resigning from the McCain Campaign and switching his allegiance to former actor and lobbyist Fred Thompson.

It’s unclear why Ward changed his mind, and in the letter Ward says, “His (McCain’s) stand on immigration made me shift my support to former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn. Michigan independents and Republicans need to get to the polls on Tuesday and give John McCain a big victory. Our country would benefit from his leadership.”

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