GOP Lobbyists Await Spoils; Democrats Don’t Despair Yet

Posted November 3, 2004 at 5:34pm

Republican lobbyists who raised millions of dollars and volunteered countless hours to help re-elect President Bush and keep Congress in Republican hands are poised to claim the spoils: more jobs and fatter paychecks.

“Republican lobbyists will be at a premium,” said Robert Rusbuldt, the Republican president of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. “The name of the game in Washington is access and Republican lobbyists have access.”

Added GOP lobbyist Ed Kutler: “When all is said and done, corporations are going to want to be well represented by Republicans.”

But what about Democrats on K Street? Lobbyists say they won’t see their niche disappear overnight. Because the Republicans remain five seats short of a filibuster-proof margin in the Senate, Democratic lobbyists who have influence in the chamber will remain valuable.

“Democrats will not have to worry about being in the bread line,” said Kutler, the managing director of Clark & Weinstock. “Clearly it’s a Republican town, but there are Democrats who have done well and will continue to do well, and there are businesses who will want to be represented on both sides of the aisle.”

Even the partners at all-GOP lobbying shops agree that Democratic lobbyists will remain valuable.

“You still have business community issues that will require 60 votes, and Republican moderate Senators could still be difficult” to sway, said Mark Isakowitz of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock.

“The universe is smaller on the number of Democrats you need, but you still need them,” said his partner Kirk Blalock.

Of course, “you are not going to see any new all-Democratic firms popping up anytime soon,” joked John Green of the all-Republican Federalist Group.

A few Democratic lobbyists are expected to fare better than others.

Dozens of Democratic lobbyists who made a mint from their close ties to Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will see their stock fall after Daschle was defeated.

Meanwhile, Democrats close to likely Daschle replacement Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.) will be in high demand. These include Citicorp lobbyist Jimmy Ryan and Greenberg Traurig lobbyist Edward Ayoob.

But due to the Republicans’ continued dominance of the House, Senate and White House, most trade associations and corporations will continue their inexorable shift toward hiring Republican lobbyists.

The results of the election “will add further weight to the argument that companies need to think first about Republicans being the heads of their office,” Kutler said.

At the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, for example, cable executives are more likely to look to hire a Republican candidate now when they replace former chief Robert Sachs.

Meanwhile, the American Insurance Association is expected to hire a Republican to head the trade association, while Freddie Mac appears less likely to tap a Democrat to fill an opening for its top Washington lobbyist.

One major Washington lobbying group appeared to get a jump on the movement.

Last week, the Motion Picture Association of America announced that it had hired Republican Stacy Carlson to fill a newly created No. 2 position as executive vice president of global government affairs.

Carlson, a former aide to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), was hired a few months after Hollywood’s trade association angered Republicans on Capitol Hill by hiring former Democratic lawmaker Dan Glickman to serve as president of the MPAA.

Under pressure from Republicans, Glickman has been searching for a well-known Republican to join him at the association.

“The most important thing was to find someone who was overall in charge,” said Glickman. “She is the sort of person I would have hired regardless of political affiliation.”

However, in light of Tuesday’s election results, it is unclear if Glickman will seek to hire another Republican to join him at the trade association.

“It may be that there are more hires,” Glickman said.