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Bergman ousts Casperson and Allen in GOP primary

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.

"Wow!” said Bergman when he addressed his supporters Tuesday night at Hotel Indigo in Traverse City. “Anybody out of breath?”

Bergman congratulated his opponents and said they both want to “see conservative principles win out in Washington.” Then he told the crowd that the real contest of ideas was about to begin and warned of “different ideologies seeking to hold office and run our country.”

“We will defeat them by standing together to fight for our principles,” Bergman said, “by being resolute in our belief that freedom leads to prosperity and being confident in our ideas that made the United States the leader of the free world.”

Among Bergman’s supporters was Randy Bishop, a Tea Party organizer and radio show host on Patriot Voice Radio. Bishop says Bergman’s outsider status helped but he also thinks negative campaigning from Casperson and Allen repelled voters.

“I think the people in the 1st District respected [Bergman] keeping a positive campaign,” says Bishop.

Bergman will face the former head of the Michigan Democratic Party, Lon Johnson, who cruised to an easy victory in the primary against Jerry Cannon.

Peter Payette is the Executive Director of Interlochen Public Radio.