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'We've been wandering in the desert,' says Bergman as speaker search continues

U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman's official Facebook page

Shortly after declaring his candidacy for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Jack Bergman (R-1st District) encouraged his GOP colleagues to elect a speaker no matter the outcome of Tuesday's vote for a designate.

In a statement sent Monday, the Bergman said he signed onto the pledge, which states that "the House needs to elect a speaker as soon as possible in order to return to work for the American people."

"The American people elected a Republican majority to lead our Nation, put a stop to Biden's dangerous policies, and to protect our way of life," Bergman said in the statement. "We've been wandering in the desert for over two weeks now with no Speaker and no way to accomplish the jobs we were elected to do."

Bergman announced his candidacy for speaker on Friday after Ohio’s Rep. Jim Jordan lost a third vote for the position. The House has been more than two weeks without its top leader after Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California was ousted from the role on Oct. 5.

In running for the speakership, Bergman is joined by nearly a dozen other Republicans including Rep. Tom Emmer, the majority whip from Minnesota who secured a good word from former President Donald Trump.

According to Politico, Reps. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Pete Sessions of Texas, Austin Scott of Georgia, Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, Gary Palmer of Alabama and Byron Donalds of Florida are also among the contenders.

Bergman's office announced that Michigan Reps. John James, Tim Walberg, Lisa McClain, and John Moolenaar are endorsing his candidacy.

“Gen. Jack Bergman is the leader best suited to right the ship of the Republican Conference and help lead the House through the 118th Congress,” their statement said. “He isn’t seeking a long-term leadership post, but is willing to help build our Conference, pass critical legislation, and keep our commitment to the American people.

Bergman seems to be putting his military career as a Marine lieutenant general who flew helicopters in Vietnam at the forefront of his campaign.

In an interview with the Detriot News Bergman said he would only serve until the remainder of the session or until another candidate wins enough votes to replace him.

"I'm military. And when you are in the middle of a fight, if the commander goes down on the battlefield, someone steps up to still prosecute the fight," Bergman told reporters Friday.


Bergman, 76, of Watersmeet, has overseen Michigan’s largest congressional district, which includes the Upper Peninsula and much of the northern Lower Peninsula, since 2017.

He was among the Republicans who signed on to a Texas lawsuit that attempted, and ultimately failed, to undermine 2020 presidential election results.

In Antrim County, he helped coordinate county officials and out-of-state political operatives who were granted access to examine Dominion voting machines.

His phone records were referenced in internal emails the county prosecutor’s office released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Record-Eagle.

In the legislature, Bergman has advocated for gun rights, border protection, and military aid for Ukraine and national-security funding for Israel.

He's a member of the Congressional Pro Life Caucus and co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

The House is expected to begin the voting process to decide a speaker designate Tuesday.

"When we come out of Conference with our Speaker Designate, every single Republican must work together to elect them as Speaker and get our government back on track," Bergman said.

Copyright 2023 Interlochen Public Radio. To see more, visit Interlochen Public Radio.

Michael Livingston reports for IPR from the tip-of-the-mitt – mainly covering Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties.