04/30/2012 05:59 pm ET Updated Jun 30, 2012

The Significance of "1"

Today I submitted the necessary petition signatures to qualify for the ballot for U.S. Congress in Michigan's new 13th Congressional District. I am the first candidate to take this step to officially put my name on the ballot. Why is this significant?

First and foremost, it shows the dedication of my campaign team. Some of them have been with me since my first campaign in 2006, while others joined for the first time this year. Their effort made this possible. Not only are we the first campaign to submit our signatures, but we submitted 2,000 signatures, double the required 1,000 for ballot access. The energy of our team is humbling and inspiring.

Secondly, it highlights the grassroots, organizational support our campaign is receiving on the ground. There are six other potential candidates -- one of whom has resided in Washington, D.C. for nearly five decades and another who has been a Lansing politician twice as long as I've been a public servant -- and none have yet reached this critical milestone. The speed and effectiveness with which we were able to prepare the signatures has been incredible and our team is eager to move forward with this campaign.

As we have worked across all twelve cities in the new 13th district, the most common question we received was, "Why are you running?" Our answer is that the status quo will not do anymore. The communities in the new 13th each have individual concerns not being addressed and need a strong advocate willing to take their side in our nation's capital.

I will be a local congressman, never losing sight of what is important to our friends, neighbors and loved ones, and never forgetting how I got to the position I am in: solely through the will of the people. This is reflected in the campaign finance disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission in January and April. I believe money already plays a grotesquely overemphasized role in elections; but I am proud to say that all contributions to my campaign, save for one from a friend who moved to Chicago in recent years, are from friends, neighbors and supporters right here at home.

My opponents, however, derived large sums of money from out-of-state PACs, interest groups and lobbyists, each dedicated to preserving the status quo or electing somebody who represents their interests -- not ours. Politicians who owe their careers to entrenched Washington, D.C. funders tend to make decisions based less on what is good for their constituents and more based on what pads the profit lines of their wealthy benefactors.

As we move into the next phase of this campaign, I urge you to keep up with our work and join us if you are able to. You can follow along on Facebook at and Twitter at For more information or to find out how you can help, send us an email at

Sen. Bert Johnson is a first term Democratic member of the Michigan State Senate. He is running for U.S. Congress in Michigan's new 13th Congressional District, which includes: part of Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Ecorse, Garden City, Highland Park, Inkster, Melvindale, Redford Township, River Rouge, Romulus, Wayne and Westland.