Life after Congress for ousted lawmakers

Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.)

Number of terms served: 1

Known for: An alumnus of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sununu was once called the smartest man in the Senate by libertarian writer P.J. O’Rourke. He was also the youngest senator in the 110th Congress. (With Sununu’s departure, the 45-year-old Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., will be the 111th Congress’s youngest senator.) Sununu is the son of John H. Sununu, who was one of President George H.W. Bush’s chiefs of staff and a New Hampshire governor.

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What’s next: Sununu’s name has been floated for the next head of the Republican National Committee.

Suggested career move: Sununu could challenge entertainer and political commentator Ben Stein for top smart-man roles. (One of Stein’s recent gigs was hosting VH1’s “America’s Most Smartest Model.”)

Parting words: “I’m very proud of the work that I was able to do … If I had to pick one thing that stands out, it’s the challenge we faced reauthorizing the Patriot Act.”

 

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.)

Number of terms served: 2

Known for: He was arguably the best-dressed lawmaker during his time in Congress; even his office was decked in Ralph Lauren. He also had the most relatives serving with him on Capitol Hill. In losing his seat, Smith missed the chance to serve in the Senate with his cousins, Reps. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who both won upper-chamber offices this year.

What’s next: Frozen carrots are calling. Smith is still a co-owner of the family business, Smith Frozen Foods, which processes and packages frozen vegetables.

Suggested career move: Congressional office decorating. Smith clearly has an eye for beauty, having outfitted his office in subtle lighting and high-end furniture.
Parting words: “Kinda like Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, I’ve lived my life for 12 years in the eye of a hurricane; that’s the kind of schedule you keep as a United States senator. And we got dropped off at home, and there’s no place like it.”


Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.)

Number of terms served: 1

Known for: Before becoming a senator, Dole was Transportation secretary, Labor secretary, a GOP presidential candidate in 2000, a potential first lady in 1996, and head of the American Red Cross. Once in the Senate, she took up the top post at the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2006 election cycle. She and her husband, former Kansas GOP senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, have had starring roles in American politics for decades.

What’s next: There doesn’t appear to be anything left for Dole to do (or try to do) in Washington. She plans to keep working on hunger, an issue she focused on as a lawmaker.

Suggested career move: The couple’s last name has always evoked images of pineapples and bananas. With her work on food issues, perhaps she could become the new face of Dole produce.

Parting words: “My heart is certainly in making a positive difference in the lives of people. To me, it’s important that you continue to find ways to be of service to others. There are many great ways of giving back.”


Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.)

Number of terms served: 3

Known for: Musgrave became the face of the movement against gay marriage when, in 2003, she first introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment to make the Constitution define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. She also reached across the aisle to recruit Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) to co-sponsor her resolution to declare 2007 the National Year of the Bible. Musgrave leaves Washington with the dubious distinction of having been named to Rolling Stone magazine’s 2006 list of the 10 worst congressmen and -women.

What’s next: Musgrave likely hasn’t thought that far ahead. She has yet to concede the election and make the traditional congratulatory call to her opponent, Rep.-elect Betsy Markey (D).

Suggested career move: A Pentecostal Christian, Musgrave might want to check out the job openings at the Colorado-based conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family. Government relations, perhaps?

Parting words: Musgrave has not yet made a concession speech.
 

Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.)

Number of terms served: 4

Known for: Keller lost 100 pounds during his time in Congress. After ballooning to 255 pounds, the Florida congressman decided to take better care of himself. He could be seen walking around the Capitol carrying a thermal lunch bag full of healthy foods — his way of avoiding the cheese plates and cocktail wieners at all those evening receptions.

What’s next: Keller could fall back on his pre-House work as a lawyer. He has been in serious consultation with an old law partner who has been scouting out firms for him.

Suggested career move: Keller’s district includes Walt Disney World, which usually hires for seasonal positions. Mickey Mouse or Goofy may need a stand-in.

Parting words: “I told the voters of Central Florida that if you elect me, poor kids would have higher Pell Grants for college, single moms would have tax relief and seniors would have prescription drugs. I’m proud we’ve done all three.”


Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.)

Number of terms served: 1

Known for: Mahoney followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, former GOP Rep. Mark Foley, when a sex scandal led to his fall from office. Mahoney ran in 2006 on a family-values platform after Foley admitted to sending sexual text messages to male congressional pages. In October, Mahoney admitted to paying one of his former staffers to keep quiet about an affair.

What’s next: Mahoney’s got a background in business — he worked in computers, marketing and sales and venture capitalism, which earned him big wealth.

Suggested career move: Perhaps he should continue to follow Foley’s lead by going into the real estate business, followed by a tearful TV interview in a few years.

Parting words: “I take full responsibility for my actions and the pain I have caused my wife, Terry, and my daughter, Bailey. No marriage is perfect, but our private life is our private life, and I am sorry that these allegations have caused embarrassment and heartache.”


Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.)

Number of terms served: 3

Known for: Feeney rode into office on a wave of power after having been Florida House Speaker during the recount of the 2000 presidential election between George Bush and Al Gore. In Washington, Feeney was ensnared in the scandal involving convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In 2003, the congressman went on one of the now-infamous golf junkets to Scotland with Abramoff.

What’s next: Feeney began his career as a private-practice attorney.

Suggested career move: Perhaps he and his unsuccessful neighbors, Keller (see above) and former GOP Rep. Katherine Harris, can open a consulting firm. If that doesn’t appeal, he could take a hint from his popular “Penthouse Party” fundraiser in his dorm room-style apartment. The fare is Budweiser, Diet Coke, Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers. In a pinch, Feeney could open a sports bar.

Parting words: “We got licked. We got beat. Most of you that were with us poured your hearts out, and we lost on election eve. But it was our principles that ultimately won the day for Florida.”