Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will endorse Mitt Romney for president.

"Our next president must understand how markets work and know how to get our nation back on track. Mitt Romney is the man for the job," wrote Snyder in an op-ed published in The Detroit News on Thursday.

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"I hope all Michiganians will join me in supporting  the candidacy of this favorite son or our great state."

Snyder's op-ed plays up Romney's roots in Michigan, a state the former Massachusetts governor was expected to win easily, but where polls now show him locked in a tight fight with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

"Our country has never elected a president born and raised in Michigan. Mitt Romney was born in Detroit. His father served with distinction as governor," Snyder said, touting Romney’s home-state ties. 

"Mitt grew up with the prospects of the auto industry and of Michigan discussed around the dinner table."

Snyder will join Romney at a campaign stop in Farmington Hills later in the day.

The endorsement comes as three new polls confirm Romney is trailing GOP rival Santorum ahead of the Feb. 28 primary.

Santorum has surged to the lead in the GOP race nationally and in key states. The former Pennsylvania senator gained momentum after a trio of upset victories last week in GOP contests in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.

The Detroit News/WDIV Michigan Primary poll released Thursday shows Santorum with the support of 34 percent of likely Republican primary voters, ahead of Romney at 30 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) follows with 12 percent, trailed by Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) at 9 percent. But Santorum's lead is within the poll's 4.4 percent margin of error.

Two other polls show Santorum with an even larger lead. An MRG Michigan Poll shows Santorum up double digits with 43 percent support to 33 percent for Romney. The MRG poll conducted from Feb. 13 to 14 has a 3.5 percent margin of error.

A Mitchell Research poll finds Santorum with a nine-point lead over Romney with 34 percent support. Romney is backed by 25 percent of likely voters in that survey, which was conducted on Feb. 14 and has a 4.6 percent margin of error.

While Romney still holds the edge in fundraising and organization, a loss in Michigan, coming one week before the key Super Tuesday primary contests, would be a strong setback to the presumptive GOP front-runner.

Romney won the state in 2008, besting eventual GOP nominee Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVirginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda  Sinema's no Manchin, no McCain and no maverick Progressives say go big and make life hard for GOP MORE (Ariz.).

Both Romney and Santorum have focused their attention on Michigan, with their campaigns and super-PACs launching ads in the state.