A day after he announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate, Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh declined to rule out a career as a lobbyist.
"I have no idea what I'm doing next," Bayh said in a statement to HuffPost. He would not elaborate further on his career plans when his term ends in 11 months.
Bayh offered a few clues about his next move in his retirement announcement on Monday: "At this time, I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning, or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor."
While it may be premature to speculate on Bayh's post-retirement plans, it's not too early to speculate about some things: Bayh is willing to rule out a run for president in 2012.
If Bayh wants to head for K Street, he, like other retired members of Congress, would have excellent job prospects. In 2005, the progressive watchdog group Public Citizen reported that 43 percent of the members who retired from 1998 to 2004 registered as lobbyists. That total excludes people like former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who does lobbying work but avoids registering.
There are several plum jobs available right now. The Hill reported on Tuesday that at least four major trade associations -- including Big Pharma and the Motion Picture Association of America -- are hiring for leadership positions with salaries of at least $1 million.
If Bayh does become a lobbyist, he wouldn't be the only member of the current Congress to "go downtown." Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) announced his retirement from Congress last fall and instead of finishing his term, he immediately took a job with law and lobbying firm DLA Piper (though he did not register as a lobbyist).
Many are watching to see if Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) will join the influence industry once his term ends. Dodd's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"He's a good candidate for a job like that, and frankly so's Bayh," said Ivan Adler, a headhunter for the McCormick Group.
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) all but advertised his availability in his retirement announcement: "I would like to do some teaching and would also like to work on energy policy in the private sector."
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