Northern Michigan Elections & Government

Dana Ferguson and Dwight Brady

Two more Democrats have jumped into the race for U.S. Congress in northern Michigan. Both are from the Upper Peninsula.

David Cassleman

Northern Michigan’s congressman faced a raucous crowd at a town hall meeting in Gaylord Thursday night.

There was lots of booing and some cheering for Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) at the event. Constituents asked him about Russian meddling in the election, health care, and the Great Lakes, among other issues.

 


Aaron Selbig

A retired Marine Corps officer has formally announced he is running as a Democrat for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress. Matt Morgan of Traverse City, who retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2013, served two tours during the Iraq War.

Tyler Bevier with the Bay Area Transportation Authority

The Bay Area Transportation Authority is asking for more money to expand its bus system in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. BATA has put a millage proposal on the ballot May 2. 

If it passes, the millage rate would go up from .3447 to .5 mill for five years. BATA officials say the tax would raise an additional $1.1 million next year. People who own a home worth $200,000 would pay $16 more per year than they do now.

Northern Michigan’s congressman says he will hold town hall events in the district next month.

Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) talked about his plans during a town hall held over the telephone Thursday night.

 He said locations will probably be announced in the next ten days or so.

Courtesy of Matt Morgan

Another retired Marine Corps officer is considering a run for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress. This time it’s a Democrat. 

Matt Morgan of Traverse City says he has filed paperwork to challenge Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) next year. 

Peter Payette

Northern Michigan has a freshman lawmaker in U.S. Congress. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) was sworn into office last week as congressman for Michigan’s sprawling 1st District. 

The retired Marine Corps general has not yet been assigned to a committee, but he was selected to serve as president for the freshman class of Republican lawmakers. 

Bergman spoke with IPR News Radio about his first days on the job: 

 


A state elections board officially declared Republican Donald Trump the winner of the presidential election in Michigan. That starts the clock on a request for a statewide recount that has been called for by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. The campaign has until 2 o’clock Wednesday afternoon to file the request.

Got questions before heading to the polls November 8? IPR News Radio hosted hour-long discussions with the candidates for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress. The race is expected to be one of the most competitive in the nation this year. Listen to the call-in shows below.

Voters in rural areas have been some of the strongest supporters of Donald Trump this presidential election. In Michigan, Trump dominated the entire Upper Peninsula and most of the northern part of the Lower Peninsula during the primary election.

This political development has puzzled many. How did a New York billionaire become a populist firebrand for rural voters?

In Michigan, Bridge Magazine went searching for an answer. Correspondent Ted Roelofs came back with a portrait of rural Michigan counties suffering from high rates of poverty and unemployment.

He spoke to IPR News Radio about what he learned:

 


Washington political groups are targeting northern Michigan airwaves this election season, spending millions of dollars in the race for the 1st Congressional District. Independent political groups representing Democrats and Republicans have spent $1.4 million on TV advertisements alone, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports.

“These are groups that do not locate their headquarters anywhere close to northern Michigan,” says Craig Mauger, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Independent groups have spent around $2.1 million total on the campaign, Mauger says. 

Michigan’s 1st District, which spans the northern third of the Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula, is expected to be one of the more competitive races in the nation this November 8. 

 

 


For more than an hour, the four candidates talked about issues like affordable healthcare, social security, Line 5, U.S. involvement in Syria and care for military veterans.

Republican Jack Bergman, Democrat Lon Johnson, Green Party candidate Ellis Boal and Libertarian Diane Bostow were all present.

The forum was moderated by IPR's David Cassleman and Jack Segal of the International Affairs Forum. The League of Women Voters Grand Traverse Area and Leelanau County and UpNorth Media Center also co-sponsored the event. 

David Cassleman

In case you missed it, Hillary Clinton's daughter spoke with IPR News Radio following an event in Traverse City last week. She discussed economic opportunity and her mom’s plans to lower the cost of health care. 

 

Chelsea Clinton made the stop in northern Michigan last Friday to speak at a rally and answer audience questions at Kirkbride Hall. 

“I always admittedly struggle … when anyone accuses [my mother] of being part of the status quo because I’ve watched her obliterate the status quo my whole life,” Clinton said. 

David Cassleman

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin spent time on this side of Lake Michigan on Monday morning, campaigning for Republican congressional candidate Jack Bergman.

Ryan spoke briefly at the headquarters of the Grand Traverse County Republican Party in Traverse City. He endorsed Bergman in the 1st District race and touted the Republican agenda in the U.S. House before a crowd of party members and elected officials, including state Rep. Larry Inman and state Sen. Wayne Schmidt. 

Rick Pluta

There are now two desks on the floor of the state House draped with black ribbon and bedecked with flowers.

Lawmakers returned to the state Capitol Tuesday to the news that state Representative Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) was killed Monday evening in a motorcycle crash. The desk of state Representative Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) also remains vacant after she died this summer from a heart attack.

The northern Michigan lawmaker who sponsored the bill to repeal Michigan’s mandatory helmet law has died in a motorcycle crash. It’s not known if state Rep. Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) was wearing a helmet when he died.

Authorities are releasing few details. Pettalia was riding on  M-33 in Montmorency County. The Michigan State Police and the Montmorency County Sheriff say they will release more information in the morning. 

Pettalia's district included much of the northeast part of the Lower Peninsula, including Alpena. He chaired the state House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He was serving his third and final state House term, and briefly considered a run for Congress earlier this year. Pettalia was 61 years old.

Ellis Boal

Congressional candidate Ellis Boal has lived a life of political activism. The labor attorney was arrested while protesting at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. At the time he was a cab driver living in Chicago. 

“I spent the night in jail,” Boal says, “and heard the acceptance speech of Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic candidate for the presidency, from jail.”

 

Boal once posed for a photo with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He even played in a band that was the warm up act for Bernie Sanders 30 years ago. 

Boal, who has lived in Charlevoix since 2000, has also been a mainstay on ballots in northern Michigan. He is running as the Green Party candidate for the 1st Congressional District for the fourth time in a row.

State of Michigan

Grand Traverse County Republicans have voted to no longer recognize Gov. William Milliken as a Republican. Party delegates passed the resolution at a convention in Grand Traverse County on Thursday night.

Milliken, a longtime Traverse City resident who is the longest serving governor in Michigan history, announced that he was endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton for president last week.

“It’s just the final straw,” says Jason Gillman, a county delegate and former Grand Traverse County Commissioner who wrote the resolution.

Lon Johnson for Congress

Northern Michigan Democrats have picked Lon Johnson to run for U.S. Congress. Johnson, the former chair of the state Democratic Party, took 72 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election against former Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Cannon.

“In my candidacy, you will see a future member of Congress willing to make investments to get things done,” Johnson told IPR News Radio in an interview on Wednesday morning.
 


Peter Payette

Republicans in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District have nominated a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general to run for U.S. Congress.

Jack Bergman was unknown in northern Michigan political circles until about six months ago. Yesterday, he prevailed in a three-way race against two well-known members of the Republican Party: state Senator Tom Casperson from Escanaba and former state lawmaker Jason Allen from Traverse City.

Bergman, who lives in the Upper Peninsula town of Watersmeet, took more than 33,000 votes out of about 86,000.

Michigan delegates say they are disappointed Ohio Governor John Kasich did not endorse Donald Trump for president when he met with them today in Akron.

Kasich was among the 16 other Republicans who ran and lost to Trump in the Republican primaries and caucuses.

John Kasich is skipping the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week.  He is attending a few satellite events like the one this morning with the Michigan delegation in Akron, Ohio. 

Candidates for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress have raised more than $2.3 million so far in a race that is expected to be one of the most competitive in the nation this November.

Campaigns across the nation filed financial statements with the Federal Election Commission last week.

Former Michigan Democratic Party chair Lon Johnson leads all candidates in the 1st Congressional District with more than $1.2 million raised through June 30. Fellow Democrat Jerry Cannon has raised $46,169.

Republican Jack Bergman, a retired Marine Corps general from Watersmeet, has more cash on hand than any other Republican. He has raised $336,275 total and spent more than $94,000.

Most of that money comes from Bergman’s own pocketbook, says Craig Mauger with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
 


Kelly Clark's campaign Facebook Page

There’s a Libertarian in the race for Grand Traverse County’s House seat, Michigan's 104th district.

Kelly Clark is a Traverse City Area Public Schools board member and retired public school teacher.

"The overreach in government right now is at an all time high, and it just keeps expanding," says Clark. "I’m all in favor of minimum government and maximum freedom."

Clark says, to start, there are way too many taxes in Michigan.

In case you missed it, Republicans Jason Allen, Jack Bergman and Tom Casperson debated the issues on IPR News Radio on Friday, June 17.

The three are candidates for Michigan's 1st Congressional District.

Listen below to a recording of the entire call-in show, and click this link for a forum with the Democratic candidates recorded earlier this month.


Want to know where northern Michigan Republicans stand on Donald Trump? On Line Five? On the economy?

Now is your chance to question the Republicans running for U.S. Congress in northern Michigan. Leave your question in the comments below, and we just might ask it on air on Friday, June 17 at 1 p.m.

You can also call in during the hour with your question for Jason Allen, Jack Bergman and Tom Casperson. The number is 231-276-4432.

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