U.S. Rep. Bergman switches support in Michigan Republican governor's race

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, a Republican from Watersmeet, is changing his endorsement in the GOP primary race for governor, going from former Detroit police Chief James Craig's team to businessman Perry Johnson's.

Bergman announced the switch on Monday, two days after the Michigan Republican Party's convention in Grand Rapids. In a statement, Bergman said Craig had ignored "campaigning in Northern Michigan and the U.P. in favor of a self proclaimed Detroit-centric approach."

Jack Bergman

Johnson of Bloomfield Hills, who launched his campaign for governor in January, has "already focused heavily" on northern Michigan, Bergman added. Bergman's endorsement was a win for Johnson, a political outsider who's self-funding a bid for the state's top office.

"The most important objective for Michigan conservatives in November is winning back the governor’s mansion and sending Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her terrible policies packing," Bergman said. "We can’t meet this objective without a candidate who is willing to go anywhere in the state with his conservative message and fight for every single vote."

In a statement, Craig said he's proud of the work his campaign has done in the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan.

"We will continue to share our conservative message of solving problems and leading from the front all across this state," Craig said.

Earlier this month, Craig told reporters, as he filed his petition signatures to get on the ballot, that he's campaigning for votes in "all of Michigan." He has touted his efforts to campaign in "my hometown of Detroit and other urban areas of our state."

"I firmly believe that I can do something that, frankly, no other GOP (candidate) in this race can do," Craig said on April 18. "I think I'll get more Wayne County and Detroit voters to come over to the GOP side. I really firmly believe that."

Like Johnson, Bergman has worked with well-known Michigan political consultant John Yob.

Yob advised Craig early in his campaign for governor before cutting ties with him and helping Johnson.

However, at Saturday's convention, Bergman openly supported former state House Speaker Tom Leonard of DeWitt in his race for the party's attorney general endorsement against Kalamazoo lawyer Matt DePerno, who was working with Yob. DePerno won the endorsement.

Johnson and Bergman will both appear at the Missaukee County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner on Monday night. And the two will participate in a meet and greet in Traverse City on Tuesday.

"I am honored and thrilled to kick off our small town bus tour of the state with the biggest endorsement of the campaign from Congressman Jack Bergman," Johnson said Monday. "I look forward to campaigning in every area of our state because every small town in our state matters.

"Plenty of politicians talk about Detroit and Wall Street, but we also must focus on struggling small town Main Streets across our great state."

On April 19, Johnson told reporters he'll spend "whatever it takes" to win the GOP primary for governor

Johnson's businesses include Perry Johnson Registrars, Inc., which operates in the certification and registration industry, according to its website. Since launching his campaign in January, he's touted himself as a "quality guru."

He and Craig are two of the 10 Republicans running to be the party's nominee for governor against Whitmer, the Democratic incumbent.

Conservative commentator and businesswoman Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores has been endorsed by U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga of Holland and Lisa McClain of Bruce Township.