I recently received a flyer via email for a candidate for the 103rd House office. I have particular interest in the 103rd district because I live in it, because I am not very happy with my current representative Bruce Rendon, and because it is a district that flipped from Democrat to Republican in the last election. It’s a seat Democrats need to win in November if they hope to take back the House.
The flyer for the candidate named Lon Johnson was pretty vague. It consisted of a logo and information about a campaign kick-off event on April 28th in Kalkaska. Since I wanted to know more, I started trying to research Mr. Johnson using the typical avenues like Google and Facebook. I found the Lon Johnson campaign website, but it only had one page, and that page only displayed the aforementioned logo. As I started digging deeper, I was surprised by what I found. Instead of finding out Lon Johnson is just your run-of-the-mill local politician, I found out he is someone who has ties to President Obama. According to my research, Lon Johnson is married to Julianna Smoot, the deputy director of President Obama’s re-election campaign. Smoot also served as the social secretary at the White House for 10 months and was Obama’s finance director during the 2008 election.
So I learned a lot about Smoot and her political connections, but what about Lon Johnson? It seems that Johnson grew up in suburban Detroit and went to college at Arizona State University. According to one source, Johnson was the campaign manager for Representative John Dingell’s 2002 re-election campaign and also served as a senior fundraiser for Al Gore’s presidential campaign during the 2000 election. According to his October 2011 wedding announcement, Johnson was working for the investment firm TVV Capital out of Nashville. TVV Capital’s website still lists him as the Vice President and says he has been employed there since 2003. In 2005 he was also working as a political organizer according to an article in the Toledo Blade. Johnson’s Facebook page says he now lives in Kalkaska, Michigan. His Facebook friends include former 103rd House representative Joel Sheltrown and Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer.
While a few questions have been answered, many questions remain. How did Mr. Johnson land in Kalkaska, Michigan? Can he overcome the carpetbagger label? Can he help the Democrats win back the House in November? And maybe the least important, but the most interesting, how well does he know President Obama? Things just got more interesting here in sleepy Northern Michigan.