Hobbs to Leave White House Post

Posted December 10, 2004 at 6:20pm

David Hobbs, President Bush’s top lobbyist on Capitol Hill, has decided to step down from his job after two years in the post. No successor has been named.

Hobbs, a Texas native, has headed the White House legislative affairs office since December 2002. He has made no decision about his next job, though interest on K Street is expected to be high.

Despite a personal appeal from Bush to stay on, Hobbs said he decided it was time to spend more time with his wife, Gretchen, and their nine-month-old son rather than face the grueling pace of the White House.

“I love the president, I love my job, I love working with Members of Congress, but family — my wife and new baby — require I make this difficult decision,” Hobbs said in an interview Friday.

Hobbs said he was “enormously proud” of the work he had done while serving in the Bush administration, though he acknowledged that the role of the legislative affairs director in the White House is often a difficult one.

Hobbs cited a scholar who called the post “an ambulatory bridge across the constitutional divide” between Capitol Hill and the White House, and added that balancing the competing interests of the legislative and executive branches can sometimes result in “people upset with you in both places.”

Hobbs was the second person under Bush to run the legislative affairs office. Nick Calio held the post during 2001 and 2002, then left to take a senior post with financial services giant Citigroup. Hobbs had been the House liaison under Calio.

With both Social Security and tax reform clearly on the president’s agenda, as well as a potential Supreme Court nomination fight and an Iraq supplemental spending package, Bush is expected to move quickly on choosing a replacement. Hobbs said he has assured Bush and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that he is flexible about a departure date.

Hobbs, 46, first came to Capitol Hill as a University of Texas student in 1978. He worked as intern for then-Rep. Bill Archer (R-Texas) during breaks from school until he graduated in 1980.

Hobbs then went to work in the district office of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), leaving briefly to get a master’s degree from UT’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

In 1984, Hobbs went to work as a senior legislative assistant for then-Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas) and moved up to legislative director the following year. Hobbs left Armey’s staff in 1990 and returned to Texas to become executive director of the Institute for Policy Innovation.

In 1992, Hobbs ran for Congress, challenging then-Rep. Pete Geren (D). Hobbs lost, then rejoined Armey’s staff and became chief of staff for Armey — by then the House Majority Leader — in 1998.

When Bush was elected to the White House in 2000, Hobbs joined the legislative affairs shop as the chief liaison to the House, and was chosen to run the entire office in 2002.

Despite complaints from many lawmakers about a lack of communication from the Oval Office, Hobbs won the respect of both Republicans and Democrats in both chambers.