Word on Washington’s K Street

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Now that Democrats have control of the House and Senate, what of K Street? Some have started to speculate on the fate of the famed corridor, replete with suit-wearing self-professed “political junkies,” steakhouses built for power lunches and the odd vending table of knock-off purses.

The Hill reported that former Republican senators Jim Talent and Mike DeWine are being touted as “good catches” for the street’s business community. Meanwhile, based on contributions made to liberal Democrat Nancy Pelosi’s campaign, the National Journal’s Hotline has K Streeters leaning to the left.

I ventured out to the K Street Corridor on a balmy afternoon Thursday to catch people on their lunch breaks and get their opinions on the outcome of the mid-term election.

Robin Baldwin, who works in contracting with the US Army Corps of Engineers was lounging in the sun on a park bench, taking a break before having to go give a deposition. Baldwin didn’t predict any major changes.

“There is something about having a lobbyist come visit you and I think that as representative or a senator, it makes them feel more important,” she said. “I don’t know if they’ll necessarily be more liberal. Whoever pays the most money, that’s the way they’ll lean.”

This thought was echoed by a dark-suited man on the sidewalk at K and 20th who did not want to be named, but identified himself as an “expert.” “I’m a consultant,” he said. “I have been in Washington since 1968.”

“I’ve been here for a long time and every year the political environment has gotten harsher and nastier,” he said. “There’s a very brief honeymoon period and then the party in power abuses the party that they just kicked out.”

I found Dean Stoline, an attorney for the American Legion and proud Iowan (Democrats now control the state legislative and executive branches in his home state for the first time in 42 years), walking down K Street toward 18th Avenue. Wearing a grey suit and sporty sunglasses on the sunny day, Stoline was upbeat and already excited about the next election.

“As a political junkie I think this will be the best presidential campaign of my lifetime because it will be wide open in 2008,” said Stoline.

While taking a cigarette break on a sidewalk bench, a lawyer from Pennsylvania in recruiting for a K Street firm (who chose to be unnamed) said he was disappointed by the mid-terms. The Republican was also looking forward to the next presidential election.

“I wanted Rick Santorum to win and I felt that because he was tied in with George Bush and he’s a Republican he wasn’t given a fair deal,” he said. “I hope that Rudy Giuliani decides to run [for president] and win. I respect him.”

Down the street Jeff, a bike courier waiting for a taxi delivery, was hoping for lower gas prices but was happy that Donald Rumsfeld was out of his former job as Defense Secretary.

“There’s one of them out,” he said. “It’s going to take two more years for the next one.”

–Caroline Dobuzinskis


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