Ivan Adler discusses difficulties awaiting the replacement for retired US Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Bruce Josten.
By William Ehart | August 19, 2016
Filling the shoes of retiring U.S. Chamber of Commerce top lobbyist Bruce Josten will be a tall order. Association insiders say the political environment has gotten more difficult for business interests, and Josten had rare talents.
“There aren’t a lot of people who are both really good strategic thinkers and sharp-eyed appraisers of tactical activities, and he could really put those things together,” said Matthew Shay, CEO of the $53 million-revenue National Retail Federation.
Shay said throughout his own 25 years in Washington, D.C., he has interacted with Josten, a 42-year veteran of the Chamber who has been its head of advocacy for 22 years. Josten was “the dean of the advocacy corps,” he said, and influenced policy as well as the profession.
“When the administration and the house speaker and the Senate majority leader, no matter of which party, needed someone to count votes and get things done, they all called Bruce,” Shay said.
Still, business will go on despite the changed atmosphere in Washington, he said.
“It’s an interesting time and I’m sure it will continue to be interesting, but I’m also equally confident that the business community broadly and the individual industry groups that have policy agendas are going to find ways to advance those,” Shay said.
Ivan Adler, an executive recruiter at The McCormick Group, specializing in finding GR talent, said this is the first time that the Republican nominee for president—Donald Trump—does not broadly embrace the Chamber’s agenda.
Adler said, “The next person is going to find the job more challenging than Bruce had it.”
Josten’s replacement must be a master of the craft, he said, noting that Josten had a hand in every aspect of the Chamber’s advocacy work.
“It’s got to be somebody who knows the five ‘P’s really well—policy, process, press, politics and people,” he said.
“I don’t think (Chamber CEO Tom) Donohue’s going to be there forever, but the Chamber is not a place that suffers fools gladly. It’s going to have to be someone who knows their stuff