Former Democratic power broker James A. Johnson dies at 76Breaking News
tags: Democratic Party, 1980s, presidential campaigns, Walter Mondale
MINNEAPOLIS — James A. Johnson, a former Democratic campaign operative who was CEO of housing lender Fannie Mae in the 1990s and served as chairman of Walter Mondale’s presidential bid, died Sunday at his home in Washington. He was 76.
Johnson’s son, Alfred, confirmed that his father had died, telling The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that the cause was complications from a neurological condition.
A native of Benson, Minnesota, and the son of a prominent state lawmaker, Johnson had a political, cultural and business resume that prompted Harold M. Ickes, President Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, to dub him “the chairman of the universe.” Johnson chaired the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Brookings Institution think tank and Fannie Mae all at the same time.
Besides running Mondale’s failed run for the White House against Ronald Reagan in 1984, Johnson was a key player in the presidential campaigns of Eugene McCarthy, Edmund Muskie and George McGovern.
He turned his political savvy into business success. David O. Maxwell, former head of Fannie Mae, hired Johnson as vice chairman in 1990, after Johnson had helped the company hold off privatization efforts by the Reagan administration. Johnson was promoted to chairman and CEO the next year.
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