Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Spencer Abraham (2001–2005): Secretary of Energy

Edward Spencer Abraham was born in Lansing, Michigan, on June 12, 1952. He attended East Lansing High School before going on to graduate from Michigan State University in 1974. Abraham then went to Harvard Law School, where he helped found the conservative Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, graduating cum laude in 1979.

Upon leaving Cambridge, Spencer returned to Lansing, where he taught law at Thomas Cooley Law School. At the same time, he practiced law as a consultant to Denfield, Timmer & Taylor and did polling for the campaigns of Richard Headlee for governor and L. Brooks Patterson for attorney general. Abraham also served four terms as chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, from 1983 to 1991, improving the group's organization and financial health.

He has served as the chair of the Republican National Rules Committee and was picked by Vice President Dan Quayle as deputy chief of staff in January 1990. Months after this appointment, Spencer left the White House to sit as cochairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

From 1995 to 2001, he represented Michigan in the United States Senate, serving on the Budget, Commerce, Science and Transportation, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees, as well as chairing two subcommittees: Manufacturing and Competitiveness, and Immigration.

After Abraham lost a 2000 bid to be reelected to the Senate, President-elect George W. Bush chose him to head the Department of Energy.

Abraham announced his resignation after the 2004 election.