WASHINGTON — With Democrats in danger of losing control of Congress, some prominent lobbying shops, trade groups and contractors are already moving to bring more Republicans on board to bolster their political fortunes.
Lobbyists, political consultants and recruiters all say that the going rate for Republicans — particularly current and former House staff members — has risen significantly in just the last few weeks, with salaries beginning at $300,000 and going as high as $1 million for private sector positions.
“We’re seeing a premium for Republicans,” said Ivan H. Adler, a headhunter for the McCormick Group in Washington who specializes in placing lobbyists. “They’re the new ‘It’ girl.”
Raytheon, the military contractor, just hired as its top Washington lobbyist a former senior Republican aide in Congress, and Wal-Mart and Target are said to be looking for Republicans to beef up their Washington offices, according to consultants with knowledge of the talks.
In a town built on connections, the surge in interest is a turnaround for Republicans, who in the first year of the Obama administration had difficulty finding top-tier political jobs in the private sector and were considered something akin to political exiles.
With polls indicating a strong showing for Republicans in November, “it’s made Republicans more relevant,” said Drew Maloney, the chief executive of Ogilvy Government Relations, a top Washington lobbying shop.
If Republicans succeed in regaining control of the House and perhaps even the Senate, firms seeking influence over federal policies are looking to gain an edge by tacking toward the right. That will become particularly important, they say, if Republicans try to roll back some of the major initiatives in health care, business regulation and other areas that Democrats have pushed through Congress in the last year.
Renewed battles over big-ticket legislation would also be likely to mean a financial windfall for lobbyists and political consultants, who have proved largely immune to the country’s economic problems. With major legislative debates in Washington, revenue for more than 13,000 lobbyists rose more than 5 percent last year, to $3.5 billion, and continued to climb through the first half of this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.
Political consultants emphasize that while demand for Republican credentials is on the rise, a mix of factors comes into play along with party affiliation in filling government relations jobs.