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Former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott will have to work hard to become a more successful lobbyist than his predecessor, Robert Dole.

Dole, now a partner at Alston & Bird, has made millions representing clients he never could have aided as a senator. An example: Dubai Ports World, the Middle Eastern company that won a contract to manage several US ports before congressional opposition killed the deal.

Dole left the Senate not to lobby, though, but to run for president. Senate historians say the closest parallel to Lott’s departure was that of Democratic leader George Mitchell, who decided not to seek reelection in 1994 and instead joined Washington law and lobbying firm Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson & Hand.

Mitchell, who now lives in New York, became a unique figure in international circles. He has led diplomatic missions to Ireland and the Middle East while building a law practice that put him on the boards of such corporate giants as Disney; he’s been leading the investigation of steroid abuse in baseball.

He recruited Dole to Verner Liipfert before the firm was taken over by DLA Piper, now the world’s largest law and lobbying firm. Dole then left for Alston & Bird, where he recruited Mitchell’s Democratic successor, Tom Daschle, to his new firm after Daschle was defeated for reelection.

Daschle’s lobbyist wife, Linda, works at a firm cofounded by former Republican leader Howard Baker Jr. Baker left the Senate in 1985 to go back to practicing law. But in 1987 President Reagan tapped him to become White House chief of staff.

With Lott’s departure, Robert Byrd is the only former Senate majority leader still serving his state’s interest in the Senate.


This article first appeared in the January 2008 issue of Washingtonian magazine.