The National Association of Manufacturers, one of the largest business lobbies in Washington, has chosen former Michigan governor John M. Engler as its new president.
Engler, 55, beat out the leading internal candidate for the post, NAM Executive Vice President Michael E. Baroody, according to officials at NAM and other associations. The Republican, who served three terms as governor, will assume the job Oct. 1 after his appointment is formally approved by the association's board in September.
Engler replaces Jerry J. Jasinowski, 65, who is retiring after more than 13 years as NAM president.
The position pays about $1 million a year, according to a District-based executive search professional who declined to be identified but works extensively with trade associations. A NAM spokeswoman wouldn't comment on Engler's salary but did say that the organization is trying to persuade Baroody, who has worked on and off for NAM since 1990, to stay aboard.
Engler faces a difficult challenge. Even with the recent uptick in job creation, manufacturing's share of the economy and of U.S. employment has been declining for years. NAM has also been riddled with dissension. Many of its smaller members want the organization to fight the outsourcing of jobs abroad while its larger members want it to prevent government from hindering the trend.
In general, umbrella groups like NAM have found it harder and harder to present a unified front on many public issues because of divisions that exist among its wide-ranging membership. As a result, narrowly focused groups and coalitions of convenience have tended to take the lead in advocating a lot of legislation and regulation.
NAM, which represents 14,000 companies and 350 associations, is nominally bipartisan but has worked closely with the Bush administration to pass its fiscal priorities. With the White House and Congress in GOP hands, lobbying observers would have been shocked had NAM not chosen a Republican as its chief executive. Both Engler and Baroody have deep Republican roots.
Engler, however, was said to have run afoul of President Bush and his top advisers by failing to deliver his home state to the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2000. Prior to the election, Engler was widely rumored to be a candidate for a Cabinet post, but he never got one.
For the past few years, Engler has served as vice president of government solutions for North America at information technology giant Electronic Data Systems Corp. Engler was first elected governor of Michigan in November 1990 and was reelected in 1994 and 1998. He began his political career in 1970 at the age of 22 when he was elected to the Michigan state legislature.