Jonathan Oosting | joosting@mlive.comBy Jonathan Oosting | 
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on September 12, 2014 at 9:41 AM, updated September 12, 2014 at 2:32 PM

LANSING, MI — Former Republican Gov. William Milliken, known as Michigan’s “passionate moderate,” is endorsing candidates on both sides of the aisle in the state’s most closely watched political races.

Bill Milliken

Milliken on Tuesday announced that he is backing Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s re-election bid. On Friday, he endorsed Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters for the U.S. Senate.

Peters “has proven to be an independent voice for Michigan who puts good public policy ahead of partisan gain,” Milliken said in a statement.

“Now, with politics in so many ways becoming more acrimonious, that is what we need in Lansing and in Washington – men and women who work to find common ground across the aisle, stand up for good public policy and deliver solutions for Michigan.”

Peters is running against former Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land for a seat held by retiring U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. Peters leads by an average of 4.5 percentage points in recent polls, according to Real Clear Politics.

It’s not the first time Milliken, a lifelong Republican and the longest-serving governor in Michigan history, has endorsed a Democrat. He backed presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

Milliken endorsed Snyder in 2010, helping him woo moderates in his contested Republican primary that saw other candidates winning support from the likes of Michelle Bachmann and Mike Huckabee.

Snyder, who is running neck-and-neck in recent polls with Democratic challenger Mark Schauer, may have a tougher time winning over moderates this year.

Recent numbers from Public Policy Polling suggest that Schauer has a better favorability rating with self-described moderates, although many still weren’t sure what they thought of the Democrat.

Milliken, in endorsing Snyder ahead of this year’s November 4 election, noted growth in private sector jobs under his watch and highlighted the governor’s role in fashioning a “Grand Bargain” to minimize pension cuts in Detroit’s bankruptcy case.

“I have not always agreed with Gov. Snyder on every issue,” Milliken said. “But I believe on the major issues that affect Michigan’s future he has made tough decisions that have truly made Michigan a comeback state.”