Lon Johnson, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party
For more than 20 years, Lon Johnson has been a leader in the Democratic Party. He has served in critical strategic roles for political campaigns and committees, advocacy organizations and businesses.
Lon grew up in the Downriver community of Rockwood. As a high school yearbook photographer, Lon found himself stranded at the opening of an auto plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. Little did he know, that afternoon would change his life. Congressman John Dingell was also attending the opening and offered Lon a ride back to school. The two got to talking and the Congressman invited Lon to attend a Michael Dukakis rally the following meeting. After that rally, Lon was hooked on Democratic politics and never looked back.
Lon graduated college at Arizona State University and was elected the President of the Arizona Young Democrats.
In 1992, Lon worked his first Congressional campaign in a 52% Republican base district. Lon won despite the fact that his candidate was outspent 3-to-1. In the years that followed, Lon continued to run and win campaigns in states across the country. In 1999 Lon took a position fundraising for Al Gore’s presidential campaign in George W. Bush’s backyard: Texas. He proved to be an adept and innovative fundraiser.
While Lon spent his early years working to elect Democrats from coast to coast, he was always on the lookout for an opportunity that would bring him back to the Great Lakes State. That opportunity came in 2001 when Congressman Dingell asked Lon to come home and run his primary campaign against Lynn Rivers.
After winning Congressman Dingell’s primary, Lon took a position with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2003 and as the Michigan Director of America Coming Together in 2004. In 2005, Lon spent six months in Iraq with the National Democratic Institute helping rebuild a political infrastructure in the wake of the Iraq War.
Upon returning from Iraq, Lon went to work for a firm focused on investing in and growing U.S. manufacturing companies.
In 2012, Lon ran for the Michigan State House of Representatives in the 103rd District, and received more than 47% of the vote in an overwhelmingly Republican district.
He currently lives in northern Michigan with his wife, Julianna Smoot, who served as Deputy Campaign Manager for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012.