John Engler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
John Engler
John Engler.jpg
Chair of the National Governors Association
In office
August 7, 2001 – July 16, 2002
Preceded by Parris Glendening
Succeeded by Paul Patton
46th Governor of Michigan
In office
January 1, 1991 – January 1, 2003
Lieutenant Connie Binsfeld
Dick Posthumus
Preceded by Jim Blanchard
Succeeded by Jennifer Granholm
9th Majority Leader of the Michigan Senate
In office
Preceded by William Faust
Succeeded by Dick Posthumus
Member of the Michigan Senate
from the 35th district
36th district (1979–1982)
In office
January 1, 1979 – December 31, 1990
Preceded by John Toepp
Succeeded by Joanne Emmons
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 89th district
100th district (1971–1972)
In office
January 1, 1971 – December 31, 1978
Preceded by Russell Strange
Succeeded by Gary L. Randall
Personal details
Born John Mathias Engler
(1948-10-12) October 12, 1948 (age 68)
Mount Pleasant, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Colleen House (1975–1986)
Michelle DeMunbrun (1990–present)
Children 3
Education Michigan State University (BS)
Western Michigan University (JD)

John Mathias Engler (born October 12, 1948) is an American politician and member of the Republican Party who served as the 46th Governor of Michigan from 1991 to 2003. He is currently working for Business Roundtable as one of the premiere lobbyists in the United States.[1]

Engler has spent most of his adult life in government. He was serving in the Michigan Senate when he enrolled at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and graduated with a Juris Doctor degree, having served as a Michigan State Senator since 1979. He was elected Senate Majority Leader in 1984 and served there until elected governor in 1990.

Engler has served on the Board of Advisors of the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, an educational organization that continues the intellectual legacy of noted conservative icon and Michigan native Russell Kirk. Engler also served on the Board of Trustees of the Marguerite Eyer Wilbur Foundation, which funds many Kirk Center programs. Engler was a member of the Annie E Casey Foundation Board of Trustees until 2014. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Universal Forest Products Inc. headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Previous Board service included serving as a director of Dow Jones and Delta Air Lines and as a trustee of Munder Funds. In 2013, Engler joined the advisory board of Blackford Capital's Michigan Prosperity Fund as chairman.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Engler, a Roman Catholic,[3] was born in Mount Pleasant, Michigan on October 12, 1948 to Mathias John Engler and his wife, Agnes Marie (née Neyer), but grew up on a cattle farm near Beal City. He attended Michigan State University and graduated with a degree in agricultural economics in 1971, and Thomas M. Cooley Law School, graduating with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree, in 1981. He was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives as a State Representative in 1970 at the age of 22. He served in the House from 1971–78. His campaign manager in that first election was a college friend, Dick Posthumus. He later became the 1st Republican youth vice-chair for the Michigan Republican Party, defeating future U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham. Posthumus later went on to be elected State Senator, Senate Majority Leader and Lieutenant Governor. He was Engler's running mate in the 1998 election and served from 1999 to 2003.[citation needed]



His administration was characterized by privatization of state services, income tax reduction, a sales tax increase, educational reform, welfare reform and major reorganization of executive branch departments. In 1996 he was elected Chairman of the Republican Governors Association and in 2001 he was elected to head the National Governors Association.

1996 Presidential election[edit]

During the 1996 presidential campaign, Engler was considered by many political commentators and experts to be a serious potential vice presidential running mate for Republican nominee Bob Dole. Eventually, however, Dole instead selected Jack Kemp, a former congressman and HUD Secretary.

2000 Presidential election[edit]

Engler endorsed Texas Governor George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican primary. After Bush secured the GOP nomination, Engler's name began to surface as a possible running mate for Bush.[4] In his book Decision Points, Bush says that Engler was someone he was "close" with and could "work well with." Ultimately, Engler was passed over for the running mate position in favor of Dick Cheney. After the election, Engler's close political ally, Spencer Abraham, who narrowly lost his re-election bid for the Senate to Debbie Stabenow, was chosen as Bush's Secretary of Energy.

2002 Elections and post-gubernatorial work[edit]

Engler's lieutenant governor, Dick Posthumus, sought to succeed Engler in the 2002 gubernatorial race. Posthumus lost a close race to the state's Attorney General, Democrat Jennifer Granholm. After leaving the governor's mansion in January 2003, Engler served as President of the state and local government sector of Electronic Data Systems. He left that post August 31, 2004.[citation needed]

In September 2004, Engler was elected President & CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. Engler's six plus year tenure at the NAM ended in January 2011. In January 2011, Engler was named the President of the Business Roundtable.[5]

Election results[edit]

In 1990, State Senate Majority Leader John Engler challenged Governor James Blanchard in his bid for a third term. Political observers viewed his bid as a long shot, and he trailed Blanchard by double digits in the polls the weekend before the election. However, on election day Engler pulled off the upset, defeating Blanchard by approximately 17,000 votes – less than one percentage point. In 1994 Engler ran for his second term. The Democrats nominated former Representative Howard Wolpe, who had close ties to labor movement – a potent force in Democratic politics in Michigan. Engler bested Wolpe 61%–39%, and the state Republican Party made significant gains. Spencer Abraham picked up the Senate seat of retiring Democrat Donald W. Riegle Jr.. Republicans gained a seat to break a tie in the state House of Representatives and take a 56–54 majority, while also picking up a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican Candice Miller won an upset victory to win the post of Secretary of State.[citation needed]

Michigan voters re-elected Engler to his third and final term in 1998. He won a landslide victory over lawyer Geoffrey Fieger. Engler took 1,883,005 votes – 62% of the total – to Fieger's 38 percent and 1,143,574 votes. Engler's landslide helped the state Republican Party to gain six seats in the state House of Representatives, taking control of the chamber they had lost two years previously with a 58–52 margin, as well as picking up an additional seat in the State Senate, for a 23–15 majority. Republicans also gained a seat on the technically non-partisan state Supreme Court, holding a 4–3 majority over the Democrats.

Electoral history[edit]

Michigan Gubernatorial election, 1990[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican John Engler 1,287,320 49.8 +18.4
Democratic James Blanchard (incumbent) 1,276,134 49.1 -19.0
Workers World William Roundtree 28,091 1.1 +0.7
Write-ins Write-ins 1,799 0.1 0.0
Majority 17,595 0.7 -36.0
Turnout 2,564,563 +0.7
Republican gain from Democratic Swing
Michigan gubernatorial election, 1994[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican John Engler (incumbent) 1,899,101 61.5 +11.7
Democratic Howard Wolpe 1,188,438 38.5 -10.6
Write-ins 1,538 0.1 0.0
Majority 710,663 23.0 -+12.3
Turnout 3,089,077 +1.34
Republican hold Swing
Michigan gubernatorial election, 1998[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican John Engler (incumbent) 1,883,005 62.2 +0.7
Democratic Geoffrey Fieger 1,143,574 37.8 -0.7
Write-ins Write-In 525 0.01 -0.09
Majority 739,431 24.4 +1.4
Turnout 3,027,104 -0.02
Republican hold Swing

Personal life[edit]

Engler at Hudson Institute, 2016

Engler was married to Colleen House Engler in 1975, who served in the Michigan House of Representatives and ran for lieutenant governor of Michigan in 1986. She filed for divorce in 1986.[7]

Engler married Michelle DeMunbrun, a Texas attorney, on December 8, 1990. The couple has triplet daughters born November 13, 1994. As First Lady, Michelle Engler chaired the Michigan Community Service Commission which gained national recognition under her leadership for its innovative work in expanding volunteer opportunities across Michigan. A significant contribution to the Commission's work came from the inspiring example set by former Michigan Governor George Romney (father of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney). Michelle Engler was named to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) board in 2001 by President George W. Bush and re-appointed in 2002.[8]


  1. ^ "Top Lobbyists 2015: Associations". October 28, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Former Michigan Governor Joins Michigan Prosperity Fund Advisory Board". August 28, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ "John Engler". On the Issues. 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  4. ^ Christoff, Chris (July 26, 2000). "Engler finally admits he was on the VP shortlist". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on February 4, 2001. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  5. ^ "John Engler". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-01-20. 
  6. ^ a b c "Summary of Votes for Governor 1835-2006" (PDF). Michigan Manual. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Colleen Engler Seeks Divorce". Ludington Daily News. November 7, 1986. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 
  8. ^ "First Lady Michelle Engler Biography". Michigan's Former Governors. State of Michigan. 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Lucas
Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan
1990, 1994, 1998
Succeeded by
Dick Posthumus
Preceded by
Mike Leavitt
Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Succeeded by
Terry Branstad
Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Blanchard
Governor of Michigan
Succeeded by
Jennifer Granholm
Preceded by
Parris Glendening
Chair of the National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Paul Patton