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After the bruising fight for House majority leader, the smiles on the faces of the new Democratic leadership team, as it held its first face-to-face with reporters and cameras, seemed a bit too broad, a bit too stretched, to be real. Not so with Andy Quinn and Scott Tominovich, who spent last Thursday morning planted at the top of the second-floor marble staircase, just outside the door to the cavernous Cannon Caucus Room, awaiting news of the vote for leader. Tominovich and Quinn had both worked for Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer, and when it was announced just a few minutes before noon on Nov. 16 that Hoyer had soundly thumped 32-year veteran and appropriations maven John Murtha (Pa.) in the contest for House majority leader, the two lobbyists knew their financial futures were set for a decidedly upward turn. Not that they’d admit to anything that crass. Hoyer, it seems, is the type of member whose staff — and former staff — remain intensely loyal and committed to Hoyer as a part of the new Democratic leadership team, not simply a meal ticket whose value increased exponentially the moment he won the race for leader. “I’m beyond delighted that the team that brought Democrats into the majority is continuing to lead as we enter the majority,” says Melissa Schulman, who spent eight years with Hoyer and is now a lobbyist at the Bockorny Group. “I got several BlackBerrys simultaneously,” adds Schulman, who was in Florida when she heard about Hoyer’s 149-to-86 victory over Murtha. “It was really very lovely.” Pressed as to how much her former boss’ new job will help her lobbying prospects, Schulman, who ran the Democratic Caucus when Hoyer was in charge, concedes, “If there are people who need help with House Democrats, I’m a logical choice.” WHAT IT MEANS FOR LOBBYISTS In the hours before the vote, the large entryway in front of the Cannon Caucus Room was filled with Hoyer alums, including his former chief of staff, Corey Alexander, who just this March left after 13 years to become the top Democratic lobbyist at Fannie Mae. “The whole family was there,” notes one former staffer who did not wish to be quoted by name. Schulman’s predecessor at the Democratic Caucus was Steve Champlin, who spent 12 years on the Hill starting in 1981. He’s now a lobbyist at the Duberstein Group and a member of Hoyer’s informal Kitchen Cabinet. Earlier that morning, Greg Gill, a senior lobbyist at Cassidy & Associates, stopped by the House Cannon Office Building, then left before the vote had been announced. Gill, who worked for Hoyer from 1986 to 1991, was both an appropriations staffer and Hoyer’s legislative director. Like Schulman, Gill was quick to downplay the importance of last week’s leadership election to his lobby practice. “The advantage is that for a client who wants to know what’s on the floor and what’s on the agenda, I would have more current information now,” he finally said. Quinn, like Tominovich, started as Hoyer’s driver. Both men climbed the internal ladder; Tominovich spent three years as a “special assistant,” carrying out a variety of duties, including some legislative work. Quinn, who worked for Hoyer from 1995 to 2002, ended up becoming an appropriations specialist in Hoyer’s personal office. He now runs McAllister & Quinn, a lobby shop that specializes in appropriations work and has six lobbyists and 37 clients. “I’ve gotten a couple of calls,” he says, carefully weighing his words, when asked how Hoyer’s ascension will affect his firm. Indeed, if a business lobbyist needed a Democratic patron, he could do a lot worse than Hoyer, who has long maintained a reputation in the corporate community as a D that business can talk to. “We can work with Steny Hoyer, we like Steny Hoyer, we always have,” says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief lobbyist, Rolf Lundberg. “Yes, he’s an open guy; yes, he’s obviously a very charming guy; he’s also a very candid guy — and my CEO happens to have a good relationship with him, because [Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer] Tom Donohue’s been around a long time, too,” adds Lundberg. Hoyer, 67, was first elected in 1981, when Donohue was working at the Chamber as a vice president handling development and membership issues. Three years later, Donohue, 68, left to become president and chief executive of the American Trucking Associations, a venerable trade group with considerable lobbying clout. He left the Truckers to return to the Chamber as its CEO in 1997. THE REDHEADED STEPCHILD That Hoyer reportedly hit his pre-vote commitment of 149 members right on the money, despite the active opposition of House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, says something about the depth of his popularity among rank-and-file Democratic members. But it takes more than an engaging personality when it comes to attracting votes for House majority leader. There’s money. Hoyer’s fund-raising network is sophisticated and long-standing, the largest among House Democrats for direct contributions to members and congressional challengers — an eye-popping $1.1 million distributed in the current election cycle. That not only made his run for leader that much stronger, it also added an entire new layer of fund-raiser lobbyists to the network of Hoyer confidants on K Street. When House Democrats went into the wilderness in 1995 — after 40 years in the majority — some of their former champions downtown began to focus their monetary attention on the Senate side of the street. But several dozen remained almost exclusively creatures of the House. George Crawford, who now lobbies for King & Spalding, had a group of 60 lobbyists on his invite list for the Friday meetings he held while he was chief of staff to Pelosi. “We’d have about 20 people show up each week,” he says. K Street Democrats are very roughly divided into old bulls and (relatively) young Turks. Among the older generation — those who worked on the Hill or in the White House in the 1970s and 1980s, are often big fund-raisers, and know Hoyer well — are James Free of the Smith-Free Group, Champlin and his colleague Mike Berman, and Charlie Melody of the OBC Group. There’s Joel Jankowski, the longtime head of legislative affairs at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and his colleague there, former California Democratic Rep. Vic Fazio. And Julie Domenick, who spent 23 years at the Investment Company Institute, the trade association of the mutual-fund industry, and is now a principal at the Loeffler Group. But there’s also a whole team of younger lobbyists in their 30s and early 40s who have also raised money for Hoyer, either through other individuals or through their clients. They include Bruce Andrews and Marti Thomas at Quinn Gillespie & Associates, Lisa Kountoupes at Clark & Weinstock, and former Hoyer staffers Schulman and Quinn. And there’s the former chief of staff to ex-House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt, Steve Elmendorf, a relative newcomer to the fund-raising game who lobbies for Bryan Cave Strategies. “In �03 and �04, we were the redheaded stepchild of the American political system,” says one lobbyist, referring to House Democrats. “They put us in the attic and we’re totally useless people.” “But there was a group of us who’ve stayed very much focused on what’s happened,” adds the lobbyist. “And we’ve stayed pretty much in the mind-set of where we left off.”
T.R. Goldman can be contacted at [email protected].

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