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Candidates for 1st Congressional District debate in TC

Max Johnston

Incumbent Republican Jack Bergman and Democrat Matt Morgan debated local and national issues, including the Line 5 pipeline under the straits of Mackinac.



Bergman said he supports building a tunnel in the straits. That plan is also supported by Governor Snyder.


Morgan says Line 5 should be decommissioned, and instead he wants more natural gas in the Upper Peninsula.


“We need to be replacing the infrastructure, expanding that infrastructure, and providing for better access and less reliability on propane,” Morgan said.


The crowd seemed evenly split between Bergman and Morgan supporters.


The crowd was instructed to remain silent during the debate, and they were, until President Trump’s name was mentioned. There was audible laughter when the candidates were asked to grade Trump’s handling of North Korea.


Credit Rep. Jack Bergman
(R) Jack Bergman

On his actions with North Korea, Morgan criticized Trump's policies, like cancelling military exercises.


Bergman says Trump deserves credit for his work in the region.


“The North Koreans would, every year, flex their muscle just to gain a little notoriety. That’s not happening, we have people talking and that’s good news,” Bergman said.


The candidates took jabs at each other in their closing statements.


Morgan criticized Bergman for taking campaign contributions from corporations.


Credit Aaron Selbig
(D) Matt Morgan

“The reality is is that I believe in a government by and for the people, he has voted for a government that is by and for the corporations: big banks, big pharma, big money,” Morgan said.


In his response, Bergman referenced their mutual background in the Marine Corps.


“I’m proud to take some donations from folks like farmers, loggers, absolutely,” Bergman said. “Do you think you can buy a general for a couple of grand?”


Jay Ferry was in the crowd. He says he’s voting for Bergman because he didn’t like what he heard from Morgan.


“I think he needs to get off the [tactic] that the corporations are wrong, in many cases, the government’s wrong,” Ferry said.


Lynne Van Ness says she is frustrated with the republican led-congress, so she’s voting for Morgan.


“I really think that he has put his finger on the pulse of people like me,” Van Ness said.


The debate was held at Milliken Auditorium in Traverse City and was sponsored by UpNorthLive.

Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.