Jerry Climer

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Jerome F. Climer
Born (1941-04-25) April 25, 1941 (age 76)
Arkansas, USA
Residence Edenton
Chowan County
North Carolina

Political consultant
Political scientist

Founder, the Congressional Institute
Political party Republican; nominee for Arkansas secretary of state, 1972
Spouse(s) Mary Ann Climer
Children Greta C. Kennedy
Matthew A. Climer
Though he was never elected to public office, Climer was a behind-the-scenes power in the Arkansas and national Republican parties.
Governor Winthrop Rockefeller appointed Climer as clerk of court for Pulaski County, but he vacated the post to run statewide for secretary of state in 1972.
In addition to the Congressional Institute, which he established in 1987, Climer founded the Public Governance Institute in 2001.

Jerome Francis “Jerry” Climer (born April 25, 1941), is the founder of two Washington, D.C.-based think tanks, the Congressional Institute and the Public Governance Institute, which were established in 1987 and 2001, respectively. His field of expertise is public administration—a branch of political science—as well as public policy and issues development.

Early years, education, politics[edit]

An Arkansas native, Climer graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration. He came to Washington in 1967 to join the staff of newly elected Republican U.S. Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt of Harrison. Later, he was an assistant to the United States Secretary of Agriculture. From 1979-1985, he was chief of staff to then U.S. Representative Edwin R. Bethune of White County, only the second Arkansas Republican to have been elected to Congress since Reconstruction.

Late in 1970, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, shortly before he left the office, appointed Climer to fill a vacancy as the clerk of Pulaski County, which includes the capital city of Little Rock.

Running for secretary of state, 1972[edit]

In 1972, Climer, at thirty-one, was the Republican candidate for Arkansas Secretary of State. He was defeated by the popular Democratic incumbent Kelly Bryant. In his campaign, Climer alleged that Bryant's office was "full of political hacks", a situation which, he maintained, caused the legitimate employees to be "overworked". Climer further accused Bryant of showing favoritism for certain printing firms in the awarding of state contracts, failing to preserve vital state records, and mishandling of petitions filed with the office. Climer had the endorsement of the Pine Bluff Commercial newspaper in Jefferson County. Bryant, however, was so confident of success, considering the Democratic hegemony of Arkansas, that he could ignore the upstart challenge from Climer.

As he expected, Bryant won with 366,079 votes (59.4%) to Climer's 250,532 (40.6%). Climer led in Pulaski County, where he had been clerk, with 62.4%, carried traditionally Republican Searcy County, and received more than 48% of the ballots in Washington County, which includes the University of Arkansas.

All the Arkansas Republican statewide candidates were defeated that year, including the gubernatorial nominee Len E. Blaylock of Perry County, Ken Coon for lieutenant governor, Ed Bethune for attorney general, and the veterinarian Wayne H. Babbitt for the United States Senate against the incumbent John Little McClellan. Nevertheless, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon became the first member of his party since U.S. Grant to win the electoral votes of traditionally Democratic Arkansas.

Policy and information expert[edit]

Climer is a policy and information expert and is enlisted by governmental, media, and private-sector organizations. He frequently briefs legislators and public-policy researchers on policy options, consensus building, and leadership.

After Bethune left Congress, Climer served from 1985-1990, as a member of the House Republican leadership staff. In the late 1970s, he began the study of the process of managing organizational change with Daryl Conner, the founder and chief executive officer of Conner Partners. Conner and Climer are coauthors of Leading Public-Sector Change, a textbook in public administration.

After retiring and relocating in 2007 to Edenton in Chowan County in eastern North Carolina, Climer established Policy Implementation Consultants and provides consulting services to public officials. He was appointed in 2009 by North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, a Democrat, to the Edenton Historical Commission, on which he serves as chairman and as a member of the executive committee.

Two Congressional Institutes[edit]

The Congressional Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Alexandria, Virginia, ranks among the top sponsors of congressional travel between January 2000 and June 2005, spending more than $830,000 on almost 1,000 trips.

The group primarily funds travel for Republican lawmakers and their staff members. Its sister organization, the Public Governance Institute, holds bipartisan retreats primarily for House members; in the period covered by the Center's analysis, it spent more than $135,000 on about 120 congressional trips.

The Congressional Institute organizes at least one retreat for congressional Republican leaders each year, and another for all Senate and House Republicans at places such as the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Since 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush has been the usual keynote speaker for another retreat called "Congress for Tomorrow". By bringing members together to discuss policy and governance issues, the group helps lawmakers to do their work more effectively, said Climer. But the institute does not specifically advocate potential solutions to public problems, Climer added.

The institute is financed by such corporations, such as Lockheed Martin, Merck, Verizon, and Altria, each of which contributes $25,000 annually. Thirteen of the fifteen members of the board of directors are registered D.C. lobbyists. Board members include Gary Andres of Dutko Worldwide, one of Washington's largest lobbying firms; Barbara Morris, a lobbyist for Verizon; and Daniel Meyer of the Duberstein Group, which has among its lobbying clients General Motors, Time Warner and Comcast — all donors to the Congressional Institute.

At the Public Governance Institute, Climer was named by the majority leader of the United States Senate to a 21-member federal government panel, “Helping Enhance the Livelihood of People”, known by the acronym HELP. The Commission focused on developing strategies to maximize the efficiency of United States foreign aid and filed its report with the President and the Congress in December 2007

In 2007, Climer announced his retirement from the Congressional Institute. He was succeeded by Mark Strand, who had been the chief of staff to former U.S. Senator James M. Talent, a Missouri Republican who was defeated for a full term on November 7, 2006. Climer continued as an advisor through 2008. Together with the Institute's Chairman, Mike Johnson, and his successor, Mark Strand, Climer coauthored Surviving Inside Congress: A guide for prospective, new and not-so-new Congressional staff - and a guided tour for those who just want to learn how it all works.

Climer and his wife, Mary Ann Climer (born 1940), have a daughter, Greta (born 1969), son-in-law Kevin Kennedy, and granddaughters Lucy and Violet, all of who reside in Seattle, Washington. Their son, Matthew A. Climer (born 1971), lives in Woodbridge in Prince William County, Virginia.