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Street Talk: House GOP Lobbyists See Change In Fortunes

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Former Rep. Deborah Pryce says business for Republican-friendly lobbyists has picked up since it became clear that 2010 would be a good year for the GOP.

If your résumé lists former employers such as Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert or even John Boehner, you may have spent the past four years wondering whether potential clients thought your CV was laced with deadly toxins for all the love it got.

After being the “it crowd” on K Street for a dozen years, lobbyists close to House Republicans got edged out by colleagues with ties to Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn in 2006.

But the old club of downtown House GOP veterans, having survived the bleakest days, is back in fashion now that their party will rule the chamber again.

“The phone is ringing a lot more, and e-mails are coming in a lot more,” said Ralph Hellmann, the top lobbyist at the Information Technology Industry Council and a one-time aide to then-Speaker Hastert.

Added Jack Howard, a staffer for then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) during the 1994 takeover: “It brings back memories.”

Even though Republican lobbyists have hung on by cultivating niche specialties, reducing their fees or focusing largely on the Senate, K Streeters with House GOP leadership ties expect the good times to start rolling again. Still, they admit it won’t be easy — and it won’t be a repeat of previous Congresses. But it will be better, much better, than it has been the past four years.

Former Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), who is affiliated with the all-GOP lobbying shop Clark Lytle & Geduldig, started her K Street career two years ago. “It’s been challenging,” Pryce said.

But even before Election Day swept Republicans into control of the House, she said business had already started to pick up — offering a taste of what could come in the 112th Congress.

“As folks realized what this election was going to look like, it’s been very obvious in terms of phone calls and people wanting to reach out,” she said. “We’re well-positioned. I served with all the incoming chairmen. The stars are lining up right.”

Carl Thorsen, a former aide to then-Majority Leader DeLay and a one-time House Judiciary Committee staffer, said he thinks the new GOP-controlled House will help his bipartisan Thorsen French Advocacy firm lure business.

“I think it’s going to be a net addition in clients for our business, and we are already having those discussions,” Thorsen said. “There’s going to be a shift, and the way the system works, people are going to need to work with consultants who have access and relationships on top of their substantive and strategic abilities.”

But let’s face it: Clients haven’t been paying a premium in recent years for access to the House GOP.

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