Jack Oliver & Steve Elmendorf: Odd Bedfellows Tie Up


Tom DeLay will be upset. Another liberal pol got a job in Washington — and is even co-opting a well-placed conservative.
My friend Steve Elmendorf who ran Dick Gephardt’s world for more than a decade has tied up in a lobbying enterprise with Jack Oliver, “former money man for President George W. Bush and a one-time campaign aide to almost every big-name Missouri Republican.”
Besides serving as Gephardt’s Chief of Staff for a decade and running his boss’s failed presidential bid, Elmendorf served as Deputy Campaign Manager on the Kerry Campaign. After Kerry’s failure, I sat next to a big-time fundraiser for the Dems on a plane to Chicago who said that “the only person who ought not to be fired and barred from the next several presidential campaigns is Elmendorf.”
Deirdre Shesgreen reports:
One of the oddest new couplings will be announced today: Jack Oliver, former money man for President George W. Bush and a one-time campaign aide to almost every big-name Missouri Republican, is teaming up with Steve Elmendorf, longtime confidant to former Rep. Richard Gephardt and former adviser to Sen. John Kerry’s presidential bid.
The pair will head a new lobbying wing of St. Louis law firm Bryan Cave. Oliver and Elmendorf would not name any prospective clients, but they are pitching their fat Rolodexes and insiders’ political perspective to lure Missouri clients and other interests to sign up with their new venture.

She continues:
At first blush, they seem an unlikely match.
Elmendorf describes himself as “pretty liberal.” Oliver says he’s a George W. Bush-style “compassionate conservative.”
Elmendorf, 44, is a gruff, bare-knuckled veteran of partisan combat who has mostly stayed behind the scenes, leaving the limelight to Gephardt and Kerry. Oliver, 36, is gregarious and polished and is nurturing his own political ambitions.

Talking with many of Elmendorf’s friends over the last year, the most referenced traits mentioned are that no one is smarter on grass-roots politics, mobilization, and the like — but that he’s not a “people-person” (like Jack Oliver) and not a glad-handing type. In fact, even the report linked above emphasizes “he has never been a gregarious glad-hander.”
Elmendorf’s gruffness may seem impenetrable to many who know him — but he’s really got a soft side.
Elmendorf has a second home not far from mine in Chestertown, Maryland, and the town goose died recently. Yes, a big white goose, with lots of character and attitude — named Lucy. A real goose, not a human pretending to be one.
I couldn’t be at Lucy’s memorial service near the dock on the Chester River where Lucy ruled her domain. Apparently, Lucy’s ashes were released into the river.
Word is that Elmendorf made it to the service and some even said that a small tear could be seen in the corner of his left eye. It might have been the light — but I think it’s evidence that Steve indeed has a soft spot.
Good luck to Steve Elmendorf and Jack Oliver. We need more odd bedfellow partnerships in this town.
— Steve Clemons