Thursday, August 17, 2006

Prospects Improving For Democrats

The big lobbying firms in Washington are getting the idea that it would be prudent to start adding Democrats to their stables.

Washington lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate offices are moving to hire more well-connected Democrats in response to rising prospects that the opposition party will wrest control of at least one chamber of Congress from Republicans in the November elections.

In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so...

At Patton Boggs LLP, another lobbying powerhouse, the calculation is similar. "Democrats' stock has clearly risen in the interviewing process this year as the chances for a Democratic takeover [of the House] have increased," said John F. Jonas, the head of Patton Boggs's health practice. "Serious hiring" of Democrats, he added, has become "a high priority here at Patton Boggs."...

Lobbying managers have for years tended to hire Republicans because both Congress and the White House are controlled by the GOP, and access to officials at both places is lobbying's stock in trade. But, in recent months, many of Washington's top lobbyists said in interviews that their decision-making has been altered by an emerging consensus among election experts that the Democrats will boost their numbers in the House and the Senate in the midterm elections Nov. 7 and have a strong shot of winning a majority in the House.

David Broder, the most mainstream of the political reporters at the Washington Post, has an interesting take today on the prospects for the GOP in the midterms:

What I heard here -- and in subsequent interviews at the National Governors Association convention in Charleston, S.C. -- from one Republican after another signaled serious trouble for the GOP across a broad swath of states from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma in key midterm election contests for House, Senate and governor...

A leading Minnesota Republican told me that polls there show "the bottom has dropped out" of Rep. Mark Kennedy's challenge to Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, the Democratic candidate for an open Democratic Senate seat. Kennedy has company among the corps of Republican congressmen who thought this would be a good year to move up. In Wisconsin, Rep. Mark Green is lagging slightly behind Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. In Oklahoma, Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr. is far worse off in his challenge to Democratic Gov. Brad Henry. And in Iowa, Rep. Jim Nussle, the strong early favorite to capture the open governorship from the Democrats, now finds himself in a real battle with Democrat Chet Culver.

For all of them, service in this Congress has turned out to be a handicap rather than a benefit to their chances of advancement. The reason was explained in blunt terms by the Republican governor of one of the states where a congressman of his party is struggling for statewide office. "What has this Congress done that anyone should applaud?" he asked scornfully. "Nothing on immigration, nothing on health care, nothing on energy -- and nothing on the war. They deserve a good kick in the pants, and that's what they're going to get."

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