My colleague Kate Ackley
reports on the 35 staffers for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who will soon be out of a job. On July 31, Cantor will go from a possible up-and-coming speaker to a rank-and-file member of Congress, until he vacates the seat at the end of the 113th Congress.
[Cantor chief of staff Steve] Stombres assured [staffers] he would do everything possible to help them land new jobs. So did Cantor the next day, when he met privately with his staff in the Capitol, according to people familiar with the session. “We’re not going to rest until everybody on this team has found a good place to land,” says Stombres, who plans to leave the Hill.
Though Cantor’s defeat was a shock and it left his staff in turmoil, such things have happened many times on Capitol Hill, where most jobs are secure only until the next election. And unlike factory workers forced to scrimp when their plant shuts down, congressional aides of the caliber found in leadership offices — who like Cantor himself typically have many opportunities to pick from — could easily end up with a significant pay raise.
It’s not just Cantor staffers who are looking for jobs after an election loss. Five other members of Congress have been defeated in primaries and/or their race for other office: Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas; Paul Broun, R-Ga.; Phil Gingrey, R-Ga.; Allyson Y. Schwartz, D-Pa.; and Steve Stockman, R-Texas — and election season is just getting started.
Ackley’s takeaway: Capitol Hill is accustomed to such musical chairs and having someone like Cantor or Stombres take a personal interest in a staffer’s job search is likely to yield success — for all parties involved. Pete Rouse, chief of staff to former Sen. Tom Daschle dedicated himself to finding jobs for the displaced staffers after the South Dakota Democrat’s defeat in 2004. While doing so, Rouse accepted a position as chief of staff to a freshman senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. Rouse went on to serve as a top White House adviser and co-chairman of Obama’s presidential transition team. In December, he left the White House for the private sector, which he describes as, “less adrenaline, more money.”
For Cantor staffers ruminating on their changed future, take heart. You, like Rouse, could have bigger and better things waiting at the next turn. Good luck.
- Losing an election is rough, but it happens to us all. Keep your chin up and read the Loser’s Guide to the Job Hunt.
- If you hadn’t started networking before, now is a good time.
- When all is said and done, keep it classy. Even if this is your first job in politics, it probably isn’t your last.