History Helps Win Contest

Posted December 12, 2003 at 2:46pm

The winner of Roll Call’s Biennial Adjournment Contest is Karl Kaufmann, an attorney with Sidley Austin Brown & Wood.

Kaufmann guessed that Congress would adjourn sine die at 6:34 p.m. Dec. 11 — just two days from the actual Senate adjournment at 7:33 p.m. Dec. 9. The House adjourned at 9:40 p.m. Dec. 8.

“I normally don’t win these types of things,” said the 31-year-old Kaufmann. “I submit an entry and expect never to hear about it again.”

The Yale University graduate of political science didn’t have to look into a crystal ball to select his date. His method was really quite simple: He looked at Congressional history.

“Basically Congress has a track record of going on into December,” Kaufmann said. “I just wanted to pick a date in December that was plausible even though, at the time, Congress was talking about adjourning in mid-October.

“There was nothing magic in the date,” he added.

Kaufmann admits that his experience on Capitol Hill — he worked for four years for former Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) and is a lobbyist for MasterCard and TransUnion — played a small part in making his decision.

“I knew not to believe that when [Congress] was talking about mid-October adjournment — it was unrealistic,” he said.

Kaufmann was one of 194 people to enter the contest and one of only a few who did not choose a date before Thanksgiving. Eighty percent thought Congress would adjourn before Thanksgiving, even though adjournment didn’t come until December the past three years.

Kaufmann won a pair of round-trip first-class tickets to any destination served by Northwest Airlines in the continental United States. He plans to take his wife and 1-year-old daughter to visit family in either Florida, Tennessee or South Carolina.