Regan believes the move makes sense. His reasoning: NADA's GOP ties are well-established. The organization's president, Phil Brady, worked in the first Bush White House. Dealers usually give the bulk of their campaign contributions to Republican candidates.
So if NADA hopes to gain votes in the House and Senate, Regan says, they are more likely to come from Democrats.
Regan calls himself a conservative Democrat who shares the principles that underlie NADA's policy positions. NADA members favor low taxes and limited government regulation of business.
Traditionally, Regan says, NADA members have had good relations with lawmakers of both parties.
Members of Congress understand the importance of dealerships to local communities, he says.
Still, some GOP congressional leaders have pressured interest groups to name Republicans to top lobbying jobs. A leadership staff member called Regan's selection "a curious choice."
Through the ranks
Regan, 48, became NADA's COO for legislative affairs Feb. 1. He joined NADA in 1999 and held the No. 2 job of executive director in NADA's Capitol Hill office. He succeeds Tom Greene, 65, who retired after 24 years as the dealers' top congressional lobbyist.
Ivette Rivera, 44, another veteran NADA lobbyist, succeeds Regan as executive director. She is a Democrat turned Republican.
The job ahead
Permanent repeal of the federal estate tax tops NADA's Capitol Hill agenda this year. The tax is being phased out but would return in 2011 if Congress does not act.
On other pending issues, Regan and Rivera say they seek:
You may e-mail Harry Stoffer at [email protected]