What's behind the GOP's enduring dominance of K Street?

The Week
D.C.'s K Street is known as the nation's center for think tanks, lobbyists, and advocacy groups.
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D.C.'s K Street is known as the nation's center for think tanks, lobbyists, and advocacy groups.

Republicans are the minority party in Washington. But they hold the majority of plum lobbying jobs

Since President Obama's convincing re-election victory, the prevailing political narrative has been that Republicans are on the ropes, rethinking their policies on everything from gay marriage to immigration.

Somebody forgot to tell K Street.

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That's the conclusion Politico came to after finding that Republicans currently "hold more than 30 of the 50 highest-profile, in-house lobbying jobs in town." Reporters Anna Palmer and Elizabeth Titus also broke down a few reasons why members of the GOP continue to land most of the prime lobbying jobs:

Some companies bet that Republicans would take back the Senate and the White House in 2012, beginning the process of scooping up talent months ahead of the election.

There are … fewer Democrats coming off the Hill or out of the White House who want to pursue corporate lobbying.

The business world tends to hire more Republicans, anyway, since their beliefs align more closely with those of corporate clients, and potential Republican hires tend to have more corporate experience or a proven record leading an association or in-house team. [Politico]

No More Mister Nice Blog sees this as evidence that rumors of Republicans' demise are "greatly exaggerated," noting that "the folks who employ lots of lobbyists don't think they're at risk of losing clout as a result of hiring and retaining top people from this supposedly struggling, aimless, moribund party."

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Frank Fahrenkopf, a Republican who has represented the casino industry as president of the American Gaming Association for the last 18 years, says that it's not about political affiliation, it's about connections:

I think all of it is about personal relationships. With the leadership, particularly, you get to know them. If you're running a trade association, you're only as good as your word and the leaders of both parties have to trust you, and if you gain that trust, your word is your bond and you will succeed regardless of whether they're Republican or Democrat. [Politico]

This may not be a permanent state of affairs, though. Kate Ackley of Roll Call reports that "K Street shops, many in revenue decline for the past couple of years, can no longer afford the luxury of a high-priced former member," which often involve salaries of around $1 million for a former senator and $700,000 for a former member of the House.

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