The hundreds of Republican staffers — not to mention more than a few Members — who will lose their jobs in the next few weeks are going to face a hostile marketplace on K Street as unemployed Republicans flood the market.
Tuesday’s election results sent at least 20 incumbents in the House and Senate packing and flipped control of the House to Democrats. It also flipped a decade-long trend of Republicans as the darlings of the lobbying sector. While GOP aides are flooding the town with their résumés, it’s now plugged-in Democratic aides whom companies and firms really have an eye for.
“It’s going to be more of a buyer’s market for Republican staffers and a seller’s market for the Democratic staffers,” said Mike Tongour, who runs Tongour Simpson Holsclaw, a boutique lobbying firm with no Democrats on the payroll. “We’ve had a couple of phone calls from Democrats who are thinking about leaving the Hill, and we’re interested in talking to them.”
One prominent lobbyist who hires Capitol Hill aides said that, in general, Republicans can expect to slash about $50,000 from what they might have commanded before the election returns came in. Yet, another lobbyist who runs his large firm said there are senior-level Democratic aides for whom he would offer as much as $600,000 in total compensation to lure them to his bipartisan shop because of simple supply and demand.
Veteran lobbyists and headhunters said some of the soon-to-be-unemployed aides and Members will find new jobs in the Bush administration, where a flurry of turnover is expected.
Some aides will look to fill other posts on the Hill, while others will catch on with trade associations, lobbying firms and corporate offices — though perhaps for a smaller salary than other Republicans commanded as little as six months ago.
Other Congressional and downtown sources said some staffers are preparing to send their résumés to the likely campaigns of GOP presidential hopefuls such as outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
But some probably will go on unemployment and some will end up leaving town altogether, K Street veterans said.
Jack Quinn, a Democratic lobbyist who runs Quinn Gillespie & Associates, said his firm is not looking to add Republicans, even if it meant getting them for a discount.
He said his firm has maintained roughly a 50-50 Republican-Democratic ratio, and might add Democrats.
“I don’t think the demand on the client side will grow as much on the Republican side as much as it will grow on the Democratic side,” he said.
Rich Gold, who runs the lobbying practice at the law firm Holland & Knight, said he has sent word out to his team that “we’re hiring for our needs, not to give people jobs who are going to need jobs.”
Another Republican lobbyist who heads a firm said he was preparing “to get inundated with résumés” and wasn’t looking forward to it.
“It’s going to put me in a very awkward position. It’s especially awkward when they’ve been helpful to us,” said this lobbyist, who has no openings at his firm.
The situation isn’t all gloom for Republicans, though.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.