|46th Governor of Michigan|
January 1, 1991 – January 1, 2003
|Preceded by||James Blanchard|
|Succeeded by||Jennifer Granholm|
|Chairperson of the National Governors Association|
August 7, 2001 – July 16, 2002
|Preceded by||Parris Glendening|
|Succeeded by||Paul Patton|
|Born||John Mathias Engler
October 12, 1948
Mount Pleasant, Michigan, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Colleen Engler (1975–1986)
Michelle DeMunbrun (1990–present)
|Alma mater||Michigan State University
Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Lansing
|Religion||Roman Catholicism|
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 serves 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 serves on the Board of Trustees of the Marguerite Eyer Wilbur Foundation, which funds many Kirk Center programs. Engler is a member of the Annie E Casey Foundation Board of Trustees and a member of the Board of Directors of Universal Forest Products Inc. headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2013, Engler joined the advisory board of Blackford Capital's Michigan Prosperity Fund as chairman.
Early life and education
Engler, a Roman Catholic, 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.
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
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
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. 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Michigan Gubernatorial election, 1990|
|Democratic||James Blanchard (incumbent)||1,276,134||49.1||-19.0|
|Workers World||William Roundtree||28,091||1.1||+0.7|
|Republican gain from Democratic||Swing|
|Michigan gubernatorial election, 1994|
|Republican||John Engler (incumbent)||1,899,101||61.5||+11.7|
|Michigan gubernatorial election, 1998|
|Republican||John Engler (incumbent)||1,883,005||62.2||+0.7|
Engler was married to Colleen House Engler in 1975. Colleen Engler served in the Michigan House of Representatives and ran for lieutenant governor of Michigan in 1986. She filed for divorce in 1986.
Engler married Michelle DeMunbrun, a Texas attorney, on December 8, 1990. The couple have 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. 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.
- "Former Michigan Governor Joins Michigan Prosperity Fund Advisory Board". DowJones.com. August 28, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
- "Summary of Votes for Governor 1835-2006" (PDF). Michigan Manual. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
- "Colleen Engler Seeks Divorce". Ludington Daily News. November 7, 1986. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
- John J. Miller, "Citizen Engler." National Review Online, January 2, 2003
- Business Roundtable BRT,"John Engler President of Business Roundtable"
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan
1990, 1994, 1998
|Governor of Michigan
|Chairperson of the National Governors Association