Photo by: Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan

Lt. General Jack Bergman (Ret.) to Become Highest-Ranking Military Veteran Ever Sworn into Congress

by Buzz Jacobs

Tomorrow, Lieutenant General Jack Bergman (Ret.) will become the highest-ranking military veteran ever sworn in to the United States House of Representatives. But making this historic day a reality was no easy task. Bergman was outspent by his opponents in both the Primary and General Election, had no base of political support, and was a complete unknown when he began his first race to hold elected office. Most political strategists praised Bergman’s service, but said he had ‘no chance’ to win the Republican Primary, let alone get elected to Congress. The story of how he overcame the odds to win is one that will be studied by political analysts well into the future, but Bergman is focused on delivering for his constituents and bringing the change to Washington they sent him to deliver.

To Change Washington, Send a Marine

Lt. General Bergman’s electoral success began with a ‘surprise’ victory in the August 2016 three-way Republican Primary. His primary opponents had served in the Michigan State Senate and State House, were known political commodities, and had very well-funded campaigns supported by independent expenditure groups. Bergman’s opponents spent upwards of $1 million to win the Primary election. Despite being widely outspent, Bergman won with less than $300,000.

Bergman kicked off his “Send a Marine” campaign with this ad, which touted his credentials and experience.

To win the Primary, Bergman ran a very disciplined campaign. He stayed on message throughout the months leading up to election day, consistently emphasized his tagline (“If you want to change Washington, send a Marine”), conservative credentials, and commitment to fixing the broken U.S. economy and strengthening U.S. national security. His strong grassroots field operation, led by campaign manager Tony Lis, along with the support of key grassroots leaders across the district, and powerful television ads by national GOP media firm Strategic Storytelling Company, propelled Bergman to a 7 point Primary night victory.

Bergman Crushed the Obama-Pelosi Machine

Although Bergman was opposed by the Republican Party establishment during the Primary, all factions of the Republican Party quickly rallied around him to take on Lon Johnson, the former Chairman of the Michigan Democrat Party and close ally of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. The National Republican Congressional Committee gave Bergman its full backing and his Primary campaign team (manager Tony Lis, media and messaging strategist Buzz Jacobs, and image maker Douglas Brown from Strategic Storytelling Company) was expanded to include Michigan consultant John Yob and pollster Brock McCleary.

On November 8, 2016, voters of the district handed Bergman a decisive victory. He won the election by 15%, far outperforming expectations in what was widely expected to be a very close race.

Considering that Bergman was outspent nearly two-to-one by Johnson, the landslide victory speaks volumes about Bergman’s campaign and the support he was able to garner from Republican, Independent, and Democrat voters of the 1st Congressional District. As evidenced by the results, Bergman’s story (40+ years of service as Marine, combat veteran, small business owner, and retired commercial airline pilot) along with his conservative policy positions and outsider political status strongly resonated with the voters of the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan.

In the General Election, Jack Bergman appealed to working parents with this humorous ad.

Bergman is Now a National Republican Leader

Bergman is well positioned to deliver for his constituents. He was elected, by his congressional colleagues, to be “President” of the Freshman class, a leadership position in Congress. This position will help him deliver for the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan and it will also give him a prime opportunity to build his campaign war chest and to help support other conservatives committed to changing Washington and returning power to the people. Given Bergman’s status as a retired 3-Star Marine General and proven leadership ability, he is likely to become an important voice on national security, a valued member of the GOP congressional campaign team, and an opinion leader in the Republican Party.

Fulfilling His Promise to the Voters of the 1st District

Like any good Marine, the people of Michigan’s 1st District can count on the 3-star General to fight hard for them. Bergman will work tirelessly to fulfill his campaign promises. Among his priorities for the upcoming session are: protecting U.S. jobs, repealing Obamacare, securing the border, cutting wasteful spending, eliminating regulations hurting job creators, passing a childcare tax deduction for working parents, ensuring veterans get the benefits they earned, and giving the U.S. military adequate resources to deter and defeat the threats from radical Islamic terrorists, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China. He also hopes to secure funding for the Sioux St. Marie locks, which is a matter of national and economic security, and was a top campaign priority.

Maintaining Strong Constituent Relations

In addition to working hard in Washington, residents of Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula can expect to see Bergman throughout the District when Congress is not in session. To maintain a connection with this constituents, Bergman will return home whenever possible to conduct town halls, individual meetings with community leaders, and other events to help him maintain a strong relationship with the people he represents. While Congress is in session, Bergman will use the latest technological tools, as well as more traditional methods, to stay abreast of his constituents’ needs and desires.

Ready to Get to Work

Bergman will hit the ground running the day he is sworn into office. He welcomes, and hopes, residents of the 1st District will utilize him as a resource to navigate Washington’s bureaucracy, on everything from veterans’ benefits to Social Security and Medicare issues. After all, Bergman recognizes that he works for the people of Michigan’s 1st District and is deeply honored that they have chosen him to be their representative.

(Author Note: Rep. Joe Sestak, a two-star Admiral, was previously the highest-ranking military official ever elected to Congress. Source: “Joe Sestak, the 60th Democrat”. The New York Times. 2010–08–18. Retrieved 2017–1–02.)

Buzz Jacobs is the Co-Founder of Strategic Storytelling Company. He served as a consultant to Lt. General (Ret.) Bergman’s campaign for Congress.