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K Street Eyes Dorgan, Dodd

Updated: 1:50 p.m.The decisions of Democratic Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Byron Dorgan (N.D.) to exit Capitol Hill are spurring widespread speculation downtown about whether the lawmakers will head to K Street.“I think both of them and their staffs will be hot prospects and great candidates for K Street, if they want to go,” said Ivan Adler, a headhunter for the McCormick Group. “The Senate is really where the action is now and because of that, people who know the process and the people [in office] are more valuable.”As senior Democratic lawmakers, Dodd and Dorgan could attract annual salaries around $1 million at a law firm or trade association, according to headhunters.In his retirement announcement Tuesday, Dorgan signaled his intent to leave public service for the private sector.“Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things I would like to pursue outside of public life,” Dorgan said. “I would like to do some teaching and would also like to work on energy policy in the private sector.”A former appropriator and Democratic Policy Committee chairman, Dorgan has many of the key qualities that K Street firms are looking for, including expertise in energy issues as climate change legislation pushes forward. Dorgan also served as North Dakota tax commissioner for 10 years before being elected to the House.And Dorgan is no stranger to the lobbying business. His wife, Kimberly Dorgan, is senior vice president at the American Council of Life Insurers.While Dodd, on the other hand, has distanced himself from the financial services industry over the past year as he geared up for a re-election campaign that was to be the political fight of his career, lobbyists said that wouldn’t lower his viability downtown. Additionally, Dodd’s key role negotiating the health care compromise in the Senate could also create lucrative opportunities in the private sector.Speculation has also begun about potential employment for Dodd in the Obama administration.For instance, several Democratic Senate aides noted that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is an extremely unpopular figure in the Senate. Geithner has also taken the brunt of the criticism for the administration’s handling of the economy and, these sources speculated, if the country’s financial picture does not brighten before Election Day, he could be the first secretary to leave the administration.Although Dodd would appear to be well-situated to take control of Treasury if the position were to open, it may not be smooth sailing for his nomination. The Senate historically has almost always confirmed former Members to executive branch positions, but that courtesy may have now fallen by the wayside thanks to the failed nomination of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).Obama nominated Daschle to be Health and Human Services secretary last year, but questions about Daschle’s finances and growing hostility from Republicans ultimately led Daschle to pull his name from consideration.One Republican leadership aide said that with continuing questions hanging over Dodd as a result of an alleged deal he received on his mortgage from Countrywide, he too could receive a frosty reception in the Senate if he were nominated for a position.

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