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Partisan K Streeters Scramble After Party Shift

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Heather Podesta, whose shop employs no Republicans, doesn’t plan to change her business model even though the GOP will control the House next year.

Heather Podesta, part of a Democratic power couple whose firm’s revenue doubled from 2007 to 2009 when her party was on the ascendency in Washington, D.C., helped Shore’s firm obtain business. As is the case with many one-party operations, Podesta often partners with a Republican shop to offer clients a bipartisan team to work both sides of the aisle.

Shore said he would return the favor if he is now in a better position to nab clients.

“I hope to pay her back for her kindness,” he said.

Podesta told Roll Call that she didn’t expect the growth rate for her firm to continue in the coming session as it has in the past several years, when there was a pent-up demand for Democratic lobbyists.

Podesta, who is married to fellow lobbyist Tony Podesta and who is close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said this is the time of year that clients are re-evaluating their government relations teams. Despite the altered political landscape, Podesta said she does not plan to hire Republicans, saying she asked her staff after the elections whether they wanted to change the political composition of the firm.

“Everyone liked being a Democratic firm,” she said. But Podesta said the firm will tinker with its strategy, spending more time working with clients and House Democrats to implement their agenda through lobbying the federal agencies.

“You will work with them in a different way,” she said.

Hall of Crossroads Strategies said prospective clients are eager to make inroads with the large number of incoming Republican freshmen who are “unfamiliar quantities.”

“This bodes well for Republicans in this business,” he said.

Some firms that are either all Democrats or have a Democratic reputation are adjusting the way they do business to deal with the changed makeup on Capitol Hill.

For Democratic lobbyists, much of the action will move to the Senate, where the party is still in control, although by a smaller margin.

In a nod to that shift, Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist and former aide to House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt (Mo.), recently elevated Jimmy Ryan, a former chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), to partner.

The announcement that Ryan would be sharing the firm’s name with Elmendorf came less than a week after the elections. Elmendorf said the promotion was in the works for some time but added that, “when I hired him, I wanted a Senate counterpart to me.”

Elmendorf thinks his firm is “well positioned” to work not only with the Senate but with the Democratic White House.

The Raben Group, another Democratic firm, also beefed up its staff by hiring a former White House aide, Alaina Beverly, the ex-associate director of the office of urban affairs.

Mark Glaze, a principal at the Raben Group, left some wiggle room for the firm to diversify its staff politically.

“We’re not opposed to hiring a Republican,” he said.

Even though Tony Podesta’s separate firm, the Podesta Group, has a bipartisan staff, it has benefited in the past few years from his Democratic credentials. The firm’s revenue increased to $307 million in 2009 from $224.4 million in 2007.

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