There's an interesting article at Atlantic.com about the Rev. Mark Harris' run for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. Rev. Harris was instrumental in getting Amendment One passed and is looking to use the same grassroots organization he used in that fight to boost his Senate run:
Now Harris is attempting to unseat Hagan in the Senate, vying to win the Republican nomination with assistance from his band of grassroots allies. He announced his Senate candidacy this month, and has the potential to give state Senate House Speaker Thom Tillis a serious challenge in the Republican primary.
Harris has sent early signals that he'll build his Senate campaign infrastructure out of that same grassroots organization that fought against gay marriage. He has already brought on Republican activist Mary Frances Forrester, who spearheaded the Amendment One campaign, and Rachel Lee Brady, who worked for the pro-Amendment One group Vote Marriage NC. That could be helpful in injecting cash into the relatively unknown first-time candidate's campaign and could help propel Harris to the Republican nomination…
The article goes to point out why the state-wide fight for Hagan's seat might not be as easy as the Amendment One results would seem to indicate:
Amendment One was on the ballot during last year's May primary, when there were no competitive statewide contests, not the general election when the presidential campaign and a heated gubernatorial race boosted turnout. As is typical of primary elections, the electorate was much older and much more conservative than in a typical general election, but the excitement around Amendment One exacerbated those differences. Over three-quarters of voters in the primary election were over the age of 50, according to Lake Research Partners, a Democratic polling organization that worked with same-sex marriage proponents during the primary. That electorate was "enormously" helpful in getting Amendment One passed, pollster Celinda Lake said, and could be a boon to Harris in getting through the Republican primary.
The Democrats are going to be in a dogfight to retain control of the Senate so you can expect to see lots of national money injected into this campaign since Sen. Hagan's seat is seen as one of the most closely contested in the country. Things are gonna get interesting around here in the very near future.
Live in D.C. long enough you'll realize that there's a fairly standard playbook for the ambitious:
- Get a job, no matter how lowly, in a Congresscritter's office.
- Pay your dues. Work insane hours for pretty low pay, at least by D.C. cost of living standards.
- Build connections.
- Go to work for a lobbyist, or start your own lobbying firm, and continue to work insane hours but now make some insanely good money in the process.
- Pray that your people stay in power.
- If necessary repeat the process to rekindle your connections/influence.
One guy I knew worked for a Republican senator, left working for him to partner with a couple of guys in a new lobbying firm, and his first year was close to earning seven figures. I heard through the grapevine that subsequent years were even better, but I lost touch over the last few years so I have no idea how the rise of the Democrats in 08 affected his business. I suspect it wasn't good, especially after seeing this research (found via Freakonomics blog)about the direct correlation between influence and income of ex-staffers from the Hill. From the summary:
While there is no scarcity of anecdotal evidence, direct econometric evidence on the extent to which previous ocials are able to convert political contacts into lobbying revenue remains, to the best of our knowledge, non-existent. In this paper we provide such evidence. In particular, we study how the lobbying revenue of congressional staers turned lobbyists depends on the power of the congressional politicians for whom they have worked in the past…
Our main nding is that lobbyists connected to US Senators suer an average 24% drop in generated revenue when their previous employer leaves the Senate. The decrease in revenue is out of line with pre-existing trends, it is discontinuous around the period in which the connected Senator exits Congress and it persists in the long-term. The sharp decrease in revenue is also present when we study separately a small subsample of unexpected and idiosyncratic Senator exits. Measured in terms of median revenues per ex-staer turned lobbyist, this estimate indicates that the exit of a Senator leads to approximately a $177,000 per year fall in revenues for each aliated lobbyist. The equivalent estimated drop for lobbyists connected to US Representatives leaving Congress is a weakly statistically signicant 10% of generated revenue. We also nd evidence that ex-staers are more likely to leave the lobbying industry after their connected Senator or Representative exits Congress.
Here's a nice synopsis of the research: