MEMO: The Case Against Jack Bergman
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Sacha Haworth, DCCC Great Lakes Press Secretary
DATE: August 3, 2016
The results of last night’s Republican primary mark the beginning of the general election race for Michigan’s 1st Congressional District. The three Republican candidates have been embroiled in a nasty, costly, and debilitating primary battle that has left Louisianan-at-heart Jack Bergman at a major disadvantage heading into the general election.
Although Bergman portrayed himself as an outsider, he has been forced to defend allegations that he was a “Washington lobbyist” who violated the trust of veterans.
Bergman will also have to explain to voters why – despite seeking elected office to represent the people of Michigan – he is planning on retiring to Louisiana because he and his wife “quite honestly fell in love with New Orleans, plain and simple,” and “feel this is a community and state that we want to be a part of.”
Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Lon Johnson has been hitting the road, getting to know voters, and raising the resources he needs to communicate his message to the 1st District throughout the summer and fall. Lon Johnson will continue fighting for the workers and families of the U.P. and Northern Michigan – working to make Congress work just as hard as the people it represents, and to make Michigan’s 1st District a place where families can stay and succeed.
AN OUTSIDER FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS
Jack Bergman has portrayed himself as an outsider who will stand up to the “establishment” in Washington. It does appear that Bergman is a Michigan outsider – but not for the reasons he’d like voters to believe. Rather, it seems that Bergman is planning on spending his retirement in Louisiana, not in Michigan. As he explained to the Times-Picayune, he and his wife “feel this is a community and state that we want to be a part of.”
Bergman’s love of Louisiana even led him to accept an appointment from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to his Military Council in 2013. Michigan voters will no doubt want to understand why someone seeking office to represent them would plan to spend most of his time out of the state.
Furthermore, Bergman was forced to defend himself against attacks from his opponents over his past work to “lobby legislators” for an institution later found to be scamming students, including veterans. Bergman was a government liaison for the Education Management Corporation (EDMC), the second-largest for-profit education company in the country, which was later forced to pay a $95.5 million settlement for illegal recruitment techniques. Bergman claims never to have been a lobbyist – but has been notably silent on his role helping EDMC defraud its students, including veterans and working parents – “all at taxpayer expense.” Bergman will have to give voters a better answer before November.
LON JOHNSON HAS THE UPPER HAND
Bergman is at a severe cash disadvantage heading into the fall, having only brought in just over $346,000 since March. Lon, on the other hand, has outraised every other candidate in the race every quarter since jumping in last year; Lon’s message has already begun airing on television.
In January, Lon was endorsed by former Congressman Bart Stupak, who represented Michigan’s 1st District for 18 years. He also has the support of both U.S. Senators and the entire Democratic House delegation. Last week, Lon received the endorsements of both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, proclaiming that Lon “brings solid ideas and admirable energy to the race” as well as “organizational prowess to his campaign.”
MICHIGAN’S 1ST DISTRICT
Michigan’s 1st District is an open seat that was held by Democrat Bart Stupak for nearly twenty years. President Obama won the district in 2008. In the last presidential election in 2012, Senator Stabenow won the district and the Democratic House candidate lost by a narrow margin. In a presidential year with a strong and energetic candidate like Lon Johnson, Democrats are in a prime position to win this seat come November.
This November, voters will have a clear choice between Louisianan-at-heart Jack Bergman, an outsider for all the wrong reasons, and Lon Johnson, who’s running an energetic campaign to bring change to Washington and make the U.P. and Northern Michigan a place where families can stay and succeed.