Cawthorne, Dennis

House GOP Leader

Dennis O. Cawthorne

In 1966, Cawthorne ran for the Michigan House of Representatives and was victorious. He served in the House for 12 years, four of them as Republican leader. He won admiration from the Democratic Speaker of the House Bobby Crim for his pragmatism and willingness to work out compromises. After leaving office in 1978, he formed a law firm with Democratic Senate majority leader William Fitzgerald which they dissolved in mid-1989.

He had a major hand in the writing of Proposal A, the major school-funding reform of the early 1990s, including convincing legislators to increase the minimum funding from $3,900 per pupil to $4,200 which had a major benefit for school districts in Northern Michigan.

After leaving office in 1999, Frank J. Kelley approached Cawthorne about forming a lobbying firm. Kelley Cawthorne represents such clients as DTE Energy, Wal-Mart, and American Express.

Cawthorne was appointed to the Mackinac Island State Park Commission by Governor John Engler in 1991. He was subsequently re-appointed by Governors Jennifer Granholm and Rick Snyder, stepping down in 2013.

Interviewed by Bill Ballenger
87 minutes, December 8, 2017