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James Thurber

Distinguished Professor
Department of Government

  • Additional Positions at AU

    Director, Center for Congressional & Presidential Studies
  • James A. Thurber is University Distinguished Professor of Government and Founder (1979) and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (american.edu/spa/ccps) at American University, Washington, D.C. Under his direction, CCPS organizes the Campaign Management Institute, the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute, and the European Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute. He is editor of the journal Congress and the Presidency. He was the principal investigator of a seven-year grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to study campaign conduct and a four-year study of lobbying and ethics from the Committee for Economic Development. Dr. Thurber has been on the faculty at American University since 1974 and was honored as the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year in 1996, is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and has worked on four congressional reorganization efforts since 1976. He was legislative assistant to U.S. Senators Hubert H. Humphrey, William Brock, Adlai Stevenson III, and U.S. Representative David Obey. He worked with Senator Barack Obama on ethics and lobbying reforms. His latest publications are Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations (2013, 5th Ed.), Campaigns and Elections, American Style (2013, 4th Ed.) with Candice Nelson. He is author and editor of numerous books and more than eighty articles on American politics including Obama in Office (2011) (available from http://www.paradigmpublishers.com), Congress and the Internet (2002) with Colton Campbell, The Battle for Congress: Consultants, Candidates, and Voters (2001), Crowded Airwaves: Campaign Advertising in Elections (2001) with Candice J. Nelson and David A. Dulio and Campaign Warriors: Political Consultants in Elections (2000). Dr. Thurber earned a PhD in political science from Indiana University and was an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He received the 2010 APSA Walter Beach Pi Sigma Alpha award for his work combining applied and academic research.
  • Degrees

    PhD Indiana University
    MA Indiana University
    BA University of Oregon

  • SPA - Government
  • Ward - 112

  • (202) 885-6247
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  • Spring 2014

  • Summer 2014

    • GOVT-523 The Art and Craft of Lobbying: Public Affairs & Advocacy Inst
    • Description
    • GOVT-523 The Art and Craft of Lobbying: European Public Affairs Inst
    • Description

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

  • The Contemporary Presidency: Changing the Way Washington Works?  Assessing President Obama’s Battle with Lobbyists,” Presidential Studies  Quarterly, 41, no. 2 (June), 2011, pp. 358-374
  • Obama in Office (Paradigm Publishers, 2010)(Editor).
  • Campaigns and Elections: American Style (Editor with Candice Nelson) (Westview Press, 3rd Edition, 2010).
  • Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 4th edition, 2009)(Editor).
  • Campaign Warriors: Political Consultants in Elections (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2000) (Editor with Candice Nelson).
  • Improving How Washington Works (Washington, DC: CED, July 2008).
  • The Battle for Congress: Candidates, Consultants and Voters, (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution Press, 2001) (Editor).
  • Congress and the Internet (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2003) (Editor with Colton Campbell).


AU Expert

Area of Expertise: American government and politics,  lobbying reforms and ethics, campaigns and elections, Congress, presidency, presidential-congressional relations, congressional reform and ethics, federal budget process and deficit, interest groups, voting behavior, campaign management

Additional Information: James A. Thurber is director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and editor of Congress and the Presidency. He is a former congressional committee staff member and legislative assistant to the late senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn.), Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.), Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) and others. Thurber has written more than 80 articles and chapters on presidential-congressional relations, campaigns and elections, the congressional budget process, congressional reform, lobbying reform, and civilian nuclear waste policy. His latest books include Obama in Office; Rivals for Power: Congressional-Presidential Relations (4th edition); The Battle for Congress: Consultants, Candidates and Voters; Remaking Congress (with Roger Davidson); and Congress and the Internet. He coauthored-edited Campaign Warriors: The Role of Political Consultants in U.S. Elections and Crowded Airways: Campaign Advertising in Elections. Thurber is editor and contributing author of Divided Democracy: Cooperation and Conflict between the President and Congress, and coeditor (with AU professor Candice Nelson) of Campaigns and Elections American Style (3rd edition). He directed Improving Campaign Conduct, a seven-year research grant sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts.  He is regularly quoted by major media outlets, including the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Financial Times and Congressional Quarterly and National Public Radio, NewsHour, NBC's Today Show, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, and others.

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