James Blanchard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jim Blanchard
James Blanchard (DOS-1994).jpeg
United States Ambassador to Canada
In office
August 19, 1993 – March 29, 1996
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byPeter Teeley
Succeeded byGordon Giffin
45th Governor of Michigan
In office
January 1, 1983 – January 1, 1991
LieutenantMartha Griffiths
Preceded byWilliam Milliken
Succeeded byJohn Engler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 18th district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 1, 1983
Preceded byRobert J. Huber
Succeeded byWilliam Broomfield
Personal details
James Johnston Blanchard

(1942-08-08) August 8, 1942 (age 79)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Paula Blanchard (Divorced 1987)
Janet Blanchard
EducationMichigan State University (BA, MBA)
University of Minnesota (JD)

James Johnston Blanchard (born August 8, 1942) is an American politician, attorney, and former diplomat from Michigan. A Democrat, Blanchard has served in the United States House of Representatives, as the 45th Governor of Michigan, and as United States Ambassador to Canada.

Early life and education[edit]

Blanchard was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 8, 1942. He grew up and attended the public schools in Ferndale, Michigan. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University in 1964 and an MBA in 1965. Blanchard received a Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1968 and was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan soon after.


Blanchard commenced practice as an attorney in Lansing and served as legal advisor to the Michigan Secretary of State in 1968 and 1969. He was Assistant Attorney General of Michigan, from 1969 to 1974, administrative assistant to the attorney general from 1970 to 1971, and assistant deputy attorney general from 1971 to 1972. In 1974 he joined the law firm of Beer and Boltz, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

U.S. Representative[edit]

Blanchard was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives from Michigan's 18th District for the 94th United States Congress and to the three succeeding Congresses, serving from January 3, 1975 to January 1, 1983. During that time, he was responsible for legislation providing federal loan guarantees for Chrysler Corporation that saved the company from a likely bankruptcy.

Governor of Michigan[edit]

Blanchard as governor.

Blanchard opted not to run for re-election to the U.S. House in 1982 and was elected Governor of Michigan, defeating Republican Richard Headlee, a Farmington Hills insurance company executive.[1] Blanchard served two terms as governor (1983–1991) until his defeat by Republican state senator John Engler in 1990.[2] Blanchard was the first Democratic governor to serve in 20 years since John Swainson, who left office in 1963.

On January 1, 1983, he took over what was described as "the toughest governor's job in America." His state faced a $1.7 billion deficit, the threat of bankruptcy, record high unemployment of more than 17 percent and the worst credit rating in America. Working with leaders of business, labor, education and local government, the governor put together a strategy for Michigan's future and raised income taxes and fees necessary to keep it on track. Blanchard completed his work as Michigan's 45th governor having balanced eight consecutive state budgets, improving the state's credit rating, established a $422 million "rainy-day fund," and producing a solvency dividend of more than $1 billion in savings from reduced borrowing costs.

Newsweek credited Governor Blanchard with leading "one of the most dramatic economic turnabouts in the recent history of state government," and national publications such as U.S. News & World Report listed him among the best governors in America, one of the innovators and energizers who made things work in an era of declining federal aid. However, in 1990 Blanchard lost his campaign for a third term to State Senator John Engler.[3][4]

Later career[edit]

After losing the gubernatorial election to John Engler in 1990, Blanchard became a partner in the Washington law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand. He also chaired Bill Clinton's successful campaign for president in Michigan in 1992.

President Clinton appointed Blanchard United States Ambassador to Canada, a position he held from 1993 to 1996. In 2002, Blanchard again ran for governor but lost his primary bid to Jennifer Granholm. As of 2004, he was a partner in the Washington D.C. law firm of DLA Piper U.S. and resides in Beverly Hills, Michigan. He serves as Chairman of Meridian International Center[5] and on the Advisory Board[6] of the Institute for Law and Politics at the University of Minnesota Law School and was President of the Foundation for the National Archives. Blanchard also co-chaired of the Canada-United States Law Institute.

Blanchard served on the board of Canadian pipeline corporation Enbridge for over 10 years and advised them following the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill.[7] He also served as a member of the "Debt Reduction Task Force"[8] at the Bipartisan Policy Center.[9] and was a board member of Nortel[10] and Chrysler Group LLC ( 2009–2012).

Blanchard is a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.[11]


  1. ^ "Richard Headlee, anti-tax advocate, dead at age 74". The Macomb Daily. Associated Press. November 10, 2004. Archived from the original on April 20, 2005. Retrieved October 12, 2006.
  2. ^ Schmidt, William E.; Times, Special To the New York (July 22, 1990). "Stories of 2 Ex-Wives Enliven Michigan Race". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  3. ^ "James J. Blanchard | People | DLA Piper Global Law Firm". DLA Piper. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  4. ^ University, Michigan State. "Governor Jim Blanchard's $1 million gift establishes public service award and lecture series at MSU". MSUToday. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  5. ^ "Meridian International Center". meridian.org.
  6. ^ "Politics Law and Economics Blog". Archived from the original on October 6, 2007.
  7. ^ Martinez, Shandra (July 31, 2010). "Former Governor Blanchard advising Enbridge on handling of Michigan oil spill". MLive.
  8. ^ "Search results for: debt-initiative about". Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Investors Are Taking Long, Hard Look at Nortel's Board". The New York Times. May 13, 2004. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  11. ^ "ReFormers Caucus - Issue One". Retrieved February 2, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 18th congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Michigan
1982, 1986, 1990
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Democratic Governors Association
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Michigan
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Canada
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Senator Order of precedence of the United States
Within Michigan
Succeeded byas Former Governor
Preceded byas Former Governor Order of precedence of the United States
Outside Michigan