Lobbyists expect the revolving door from K Street to the White House to once again spin freely if GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is elected.
Republican lobbyists say their candidate would not follow that route. “I presume a Romney administration would attract the best and the brightest whether they’re lobbyists or not,” said Brad Card, a GOP lobbyist who supports the Romney/Ryan ticket.
Romney, a one-time businessman, champions the private sector from the campaign trail. And corporate lobbyists — whose clients include oil, tobacco, health care, transportation and technology firms — function as the private sector’s representatives in Washington, D.C.
“I don’t know why any administration would handcuff themselves by blacklisting any group of people,” said Republican lobbyist Sam Geduldig, a partner with Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford. “Republicans have issues with unions, trial attorneys, mainstream media, Hollywood and ivy league professors. But to ban any candidate from consideration for being associated with a specific industry would be closed-minded.”
K Street is well-stocked with Romney supporters who could easily land jobs with the Republican’s team.
Drew Maloney, who until this summer was a registered lobbyist at Ogilvy Government Relations, is now working full-time with the Romney transition team and, numerous sources said, serving as a point person to identify candidates for legislative affairs units from the White House to Cabinet departments and agencies. He could easily fill the slot of the White House’s chief liaison with Congress or take another high-level job in a Romney White House.
Dutko Grayling lobbyist Ron Kaufman is on unpaid leave from his firm to work on the Romney/Ryan effort and would likely be in line for a senior administration job.
Patton Boggs partner and Romney campaign adviser Ben Ginsberg would be a contender for the White House counsel slot, downtown sources speculated.
Jack Gerard, who as head of the American Petroleum Institute for the past four years served as the oil industry’s top lobbyist, is deeply plugged in with the Romney operation. But even some Republican lobbyists say picking Gerard to lead the Energy Department or giving him another position might create unfavorable appearances. He may still hold sway with GOP administration insiders from the outside.
Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), of counsel at Hogan Lovells, is not currently a registered lobbyist but said in an email he intends to register shortly. While Coleman noted that he is focused on getting Romney elected, numerous downtown sources said he, too, would be on a short list for a senior Romney role.
Ex-Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), co-chairman of Mercury Clark & Weinstock and who is no longer a registered lobbyist, could be a Romney administration pick to run the Defense or Homeland Security departments, while former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.) might also end up ticketed for a government position.
Obama also has banned lobbyists from serving on government advisory boards, but Romney’s campaign has included lobbyists on its advisory panels. Its agriculture advisers, for example, include Randy Russell, president of the Russell Group, whose clients include Cargill, Monsanto and Kraft Foods.
All of the prospective appointees except Coleman either declined comment or did not respond to questions. Some leading contenders may ultimately eschew Romney overtures because the positions would come with a dramatic pay cut, longer hours and a more grueling pace.