Retired U.P. Marine files for GOP congressional primary

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — A retired Marine Corps lieutenant general from the western Upper Peninsula has filed petitions to run for Congress in the Republican primary in northern Michigan’s 1st Congressional District.

Retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John W. “Jack” Bergman said he filed 2,000 petition signatures Tuesday to get on the Aug. 2 primary ballot.

He will likely be challenging two established names in U.P. and northern Michigan Republican politics: state Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba and former state Sen. Jason Allen of Traverse City.

Bergman is an 18-year resident of Watersmeet, an outpost in the western U.P. wilderness.

He flew a helicopter in the Vietnam War and then spent more than 20 years in the Marines Reserves, mixing in a “hybrid” career as a Northwest Airlines pilot and operating a medical supply business.

Bergman was recalled to active duty in 2003 and retired in 2009 as a three-star brigadier general.

“I felt it was time for me to step up and put some rudder into this ship known as the United States and put it back on course,” Bergman said Tuesday.

Bergman, 69, still owns and operates his medical supply business and is planning to use his military service to distinguish himself from Casperson and Allen in the race.

“Right, wrong or indifferent, we have two career politicians seeking to ascend to the next rung of their career ladder,” Bergman told The Detroit News. “You have me who is coming out of retirement to serve the country in a suit rather than a uniform.”

Casperson and Allen have not yet filed their nominating petitions with a minimum of 1,000 valid voter signatures; the deadline is 4 p.m. April 19.

Allen recently quit his job as senior policy adviser for the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency to run for the open congressional seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek.

Benishek, a Crystall Falls Republican who defeated Allen in a close 2010 GOP primary, has endorsed Casperson in the race.

Two Democrats have launched campaigns for the seat: former Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson of Kalkaska and Jerry Cannon, the former Kalkaska County sheriff who was Benishek’s Democratic opponent in 2014.

Neither Johnson nor Cannon has submitted their nominating petitions yet to the Secretary of State’s office.

(517) 371-3661

Twitter: @ChadLivengood