WASHINGTON AN ADMIRING colleague describes the basketball prowess of Thomas J. Donohue, one-time high school forward and current Washington power-broker, in not-so-glowing terms: "Bad style. Bad form." He's right, Donohue says today: "I could jump higher than the basket, but that's all I could do. That and get rebounds."
In a comeback bid, the chamber leadership last summer turned to Donohue, a one-time Boy Scout executive and college fundraiser from Rockville Centre who first came to Washington in December, 1969, to help build the U.S. Postal Service and for the past 13 years guided the American Trucking Association. Pugnacious, ambitious and meticulously tailored, Donohue brims with confidence as he recites his plans for the chamber.
"He had the saddest two-handed set shot I ever saw," McGrath says. But that's the past. He's seen Donohue work Washington, too, first when McGrath served on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in the House and Donohue represented the trucking industry. One occasion was when McGrath opposed a tax cut for the trucking industry and Donohue was president of the American Trucking Association. McGrath quickly experienced Donohue's creative lobbying pressure: He got a call from his next door-neighbor on Long Island, a trucking executive, who urged him to switch positions. He didn't.