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Spencer Abraham

Spencer Abraham

Edward Spencer Abraham (born June 12, 1952) is a former Republican United States Senator from Michigan. He served as the tenth United States Secretary of Energy, serving under President George W. Bush. Abraham is one of the founders of the Federalist Society and a co-founder of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. To date, Abraham is the last Republican to serve as a U.S. Senator from Michigan.

Education and family

Abraham was born in East Lansing, Michigan, the son of Juliette Elizabeth (Sear), a member of the Michigan Republican State Central Committee, and Eddie Joseph Abraham.[1] He is a graduate of East Lansing High School. Of Lebanese descent, Abraham is married to Jane Abraham (current co-chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, and chair of the Susan B. Anthony List) and has three children: a son and twin girls, Betsy and Julie. He holds a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard University, and is a 1974 Honors College graduate of Michigan State University. In 1978, while at Harvard Law School, Abraham helped found the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.[2] It became one of the official journals of the Federalist Society, which was founded in 1982.

Political career

Before his election to the Senate, Abraham was a law professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Republican Party service

He was elected chairman of the Michigan Republican Party from 1983 to 1990. He was deputy chief of staff for Vice President Dan Quayle from 1990 to 1991. He later served as co-chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) from 1991 to 1993 and ran for chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1993, coming second to Haley Barbour.

United States Senate

Abraham was elected to represent Michigan in the United States Senate in 1994, and he served until 2001 when he was defeated for reelection to the Senate in 2000 for a second term by Debbie Stabenow. He was the only Arab American in the chamber. According to the New York Times, State Republicans attributed his loss to “scathing advertisements by a wide range of special interest groups, including advertisements that criticized Mr. Abraham’s support for a relaxation of some immigration restrictions”.[3] During the campaign the Federation for American Immigration Reform ran ads asking: “Why is Senator Spencer Abraham trying to make it easier for terrorists like Osama bin Laden to export their war of terror to any city street in America?”[4][5][6] The media denounced these commercials as “vengeful”.[7] Abraham was a consistent advocate of large-scale immigration and worked relentlessly to lessen immigration controls and regulations. In 1996, when President Clinton endorsed Congresswoman Barbara Jordan’s proposed cuts to legal immigration Senator Abraham played a leading role in blocking the proposed cuts.[8] Another factor in his defeat was his vote to convict President Clinton in his 1999 impeachment trial.[9] The following year he received the “Defender of the Melting Pot” award from the National Council of La Raza for his efforts on the immigration issue.[10]

Committee service and legislation

He served on the Budget, Commerce, Science and Transportation, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees. He also chaired two subcommittees: Manufacturing and Competitiveness, and Immigration. Abraham authored the “H1B Visa in Global and National Commerce Act”, establishing a federal framework for on-line contracts and signatures; the “Government Paperwork Elimination Act”, and the “Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act”, which protects Internet domain names for businesses and persons against copyright and trademark infringements. In 1999, Abraham co-sponsored S.896, a bill to abolish the U.S. Department of Energy, which would have transferred control of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in large part to the Defense Department.[11]

U.S. Energy Secretary

 Spencer Abraham working as the Secretary of Energy near Yucca Mountain

Abraham was appointed Secretary of Energy by the incoming George W. Bush’s administration. On November 15, 2004, Abraham announced that he would resign from this position, effective with the swearing in of his successor Samuel W. Bodman on February 1, 2005.

In 2004, Lebanese Ambassador Farid Abboud awarded Abraham the National Order of the Cedar.[12]

Hoover Institution

Abraham was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, an influential think tank based at Stanford University from 2005 through 2007. After leaving office, Abraham opened The Abraham Group, a Washington DC based international strategic consulting firm. In 2006, Spencer Abraham has accepted the appointment as Chairman of the Board of Areva Inc., the US subsidiary of the French nuclear energy company.[13]

Thompson for President

On July 24, 2007, Abraham was announced as an “ambassador to official Washington” in the Fred Thompson presidential campaign.[14]

Later career

In 2006 Abraham was appointed Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of AREVA Inc., the American arm of the French nuclear company Areva, which is planning to build EPR nuclear power plants in the United States, and is building the mixed oxide fuel (MOX) manufacturing plant at the Savannah River Site to convert legacy weapons-grade plutonium into power station fuel.[15][16]

With William Tucker, Abraham wrote Lights Out!: Ten Myths About (and Real Solutions to) America’s Energy Crisis, which was published in July 2010.

Abraham is also the Chairman and CEO of The Abraham Group, a strategic consulting firm providing assistance to clients seeking opportunities in the U.S. and global markets.[16]

Electoral history

Michigan U.S. Senate Election 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Debbie Stabenow 2,061,952 49.5
Republican Spencer Abraham (Incumbent) 1,994,693 47.9
Michigan U.S. Senate Election 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Spencer Abraham 1,577,865 52
Democratic Bob Carr 1,298,726 43
Libertarian Jon Coon 127,783 4


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  2. Jump up^ “Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy”. Archived from the original on June 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  3. Jump up^ “THE 2000 ELECTIONS: MICHIGAN; Congresswoman Unseats a Senator”.The New York Times. November 9, 2000. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
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  7. Jump up^ “Article”.[dead link]
  8. Jump up^ Pear, Robert (June 8, 1995). “Clinton Embraces a Proposal To Cut Immigration by a Third”The New York Times.
  9. Jump up^
  10. Jump up^ Krikorian, Mark (August 19, 2005). “Liberal Two-Step Dems pay lip service only on border control”National Review.
  11. Jump up^
  12. Jump up^ “Farid Abboud awards Spencer Abraham “The National Order of the Cedar””. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  13. Jump up^ “Spencer ABRAHAM nommé Président du conseil d’administration d’AREVA Inc.” (in French). Framatome ANP. March 1, 2006.
  14. Jump up^ The PoliticoF. Thompson shakes up pre-launch campaign, by Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen, July 24, 2007.
  15. Jump up^ Jo Becker and William J. Broad (April 10, 2011). “New Doubts About Turning Plutonium Into a Fuel”New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  16. Jump up to:a b “Officers – Strong U.S. Leadership”. Areva. Retrieved April 11, 2011.