Cincinnatus returned to his plow, and in the old days, retired or defeated U.S. Senators might go home, retire, or return to their civilian job. But that's pretty old fashioned. There's too much money to make playing the Beltway game these days — and besides, many of these guys never had a real job.
So, where will our outgoing senators go?
Here are my best guesses, subject to change:
Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.: Byron Dorgan, together with his lobbyist wife, owns a 4-bedroom, 4.5-bath home on a cul-de-sac in McLean, Virginia. I don't think he's moving back to North Dakota. When Dorgan announced his retirement, he said, “I would like to do some teaching and would also like to work on energy policy in the private sector.” At first I guessed he would lobby for cellulosic ethanol. But recently he's shown interest in electric cars, and some of his ex-staff are lobbying for them, so that's my new bet:
Predicted cashout: Heading a coalition lobby for plug-in electric cars.
Chris Dodd, D-Conn.: Near the end of very pro-bank career, Dodd sparred a bit with Wall Street and the commercial banks. While well liked in the Senate Democratic Caucus, he'd be barred from directly lobbying the upper chamber for two years. This is one guy who might actually move back home.
Predicted cashout: Working as a consultant for one or more hedge funds in Connecticut.
Evan Bayh, D-Ind.: Chairman or V.P. for government relations at Indiana-based Eli Lilly would be the obvious next job for this pro-Pharma Hoosier, but he still probably wants to run for president in six years. The safer route, leverage his wife's corporate board work for some non-lobbying, contract-based consulting, which would also help him build up his donor base for 2016.
Predicted cashout: Indianapolis-based consultant to health insurance companies and drug companies.
George LeMieux, R-Fla.: LeMieux wants to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson, D, in 2012. His old patron, Charlie Crist, is on his way out, and so LeMieux doesn't have an obvious place to turn for work. If he's smart — and serious about running — he'll keep his nose clean, cozy up to Marco Rubio, and start raising funds.
Predicted job: Raising money for a 2012 senate run.
Judd Gregg, R-N.H..: Can Mitt Romney, whom Gregg endorsed in 2008, pay Gregg enough to be a full-time surrogate? If Gregg went home and spent all his time stumping for Mitt, it could make a difference. Probably, Gregg would have to combine this with consulting, and then hope for a top spot in a Romney White House come 2013.
Predicted job: Business consultant/Romney surrogate.
Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.: Will Tyson Foods and Wal-Mart enter a bidding war for her? Will she go more agricultural? Or will her embarrassing loss make her less valuable?
Predicted Cashout: Tyson Foods Chairman.
Russ Feingold, D-Wis.: This is the least likely guy to go to K Street. There's speculation he'll run for President, but more likely he'll run for Herb Kohl's Senate seat if Kohl retires. Between now and then, he'll either just run, or maybe start a liberal activist group.
Predicted job: More running for office.
Arlen Specter, D-Pa.: Specter has lived a long and active life. While he's old enough to retire, he doesn't believe in slowing down. Being a lobbyist isn't his style, either, I suspect, as he usually does his own bidding and no one else's. He'll probably semi-retire, do some legal work, and serve on as many commissions as possible, maintaining roots in Philly and D.C.
Predicted job: Perpetual Beltway hanger-on.
George Voinovich, R-Ohio: Voinovich has been in politics since he became Ohio's assistant attorney general in 1963 at age 27. He's since served in state government, Cuyahoga County government, as Cleveland Mayor, as governor, and senator. At age 76 he could retire, and live as an elder statesman in Cleveland. But as the senior member of the Homeland Security subcommittee of the Appropriations committee, there are probably a few firms who want him here in town. I expect he'll be more a John Warner (part time lobbyist, mostly a face) than a Trent Lott (hustler).
Predicted Cashout: A sinecure as a homeland security lobbyist.
Roland Burris, D-Ill.: Not the most well-liked or well-respected senator in the caucus, Burris clashed with his party's leadership too much to make him a very valuable lobbyist. Being appointed by impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich doesn't help either. He's another one best served by going home. Between the state government, the Chicago government, and the Cook County government, there's enough patronage that needs doling out.
Predicted Cashout: Cook County political and business consultant.
Ted Kaufman, D-Del.: Joe Biden's brought some of his old Senate staff to the White House, maybe he'll do the same with Kaufman. If not, Biden's got a merry band of lobbyists with whom Kaufman could join up.
Predicted Cashout: Lobbyist at Oldaker, Belair & Wittie.
Jim Bunning, R-Ky.: Bunning hates Washington and everything about it. He's also got banking history.
Predicted Cashout: Start a bank in Kentucky — or anywhere but D.C.
Bob Bennett, R-Utah: This one's too easy. He'll be an earmark lobbyist.
Predicted Cashout: Launch his own lobbying firm.