With more than a dozen California lawyers headed to the upcoming conventions, we tackle the question: When you pin your hopes on a donkey, or an elephant, where's it going to get you?
|August 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM
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With the Democratic National Convention upon us in less than a week, and the Republican National Convention right on its heels, we started counting all the lawyers from California who get to go as delegates. We spotted more than a dozen (see list below). It will be clear in just over two months who’s put their money on the right horse, so to speak, and that got us to wondering … how hard is it to parlay your vocal (or fiscal) support into a desk at a federal agency or an exotic embassy? With a new president entering the White House, thousands of spots will need filling, everything from Senate-confirmation and non-confirmation administration posts, to ambassadorships, to seats on the most mundane of commissions. If you miss the first round, you can bank on turnover. Of course, the numerical odds are still long. The majority of the chosen, perhaps two-thirds, typically come from the Washington, D.C., metro area. And every president has a long list of backers. Still, out-of-state hopefuls need not feel hopeless. They can look to alums of the 2000 Republican campaign for inspiration. Margita Thompson, who worked on the 1992 George H.W. Bush campaign and was California press secretary for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential bid, served for a time in the office of the vice president, as press secretary to Lynne Cheney. Businessman Howard Leach, a longtime GOP donor and fund-raiser who reportedly was a delegate at the 2000 Republican National Convention, served as ambassador to France from 2001 to 2005. Economist John Taylor, after serving in economic-adviser positions for presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, and for the presidential campaigns of Bob Dole and George W. Bush, went on to serve as undersecretary of treasury for international affairs from 2001 to 2005. Venture capitalist E. Floyd Kvamme, who had been an active Bush campaign supporter in 2000, was later appointed to the President’s Council Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Former lawyer Lezlee Westine, an ex-Pete Wilson staffer who worked at Silicon Valley advocacy group TechNet during the 2000 campaign, was also reportedly a delegate at that year’s convention and later served, beginning in 2001, as White House director of public liaison. Businessman George Argyros, another reported Bush fund-raiser and 2000 delegate, served as ambassador to Spain from 2001 to 2004. So, how does someone improve their chances? The closer you are to the candidate (or someone who matters to the candidate), the more money you give or raise or the harder you work, the higher the odds that you’ll be noticed. Have your resume delivered by someone who matters a lot to the campaign or the president — the co-chair of his campaign, say. Bonus points for sticking your neck out early. It’s been said that those who supported George H.W. Bush even before he upset Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Iowa caucus got major loyalty points when Bush became Reagan’s running mate and later his successor. And hey, even if this year’s delegates don’t have a chance at an appointment — or don’t want one — they can still get something out of Denver or Minneapolis. The connections made at these events can make you a better fund-raiser, or even leave you better positioned to run for office back home. Plus, you get years’ worth of tiresome cocktail party anecdotes about the time you bumped into Stephen Colbert in the Spin Zone.
— Pam Smith
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