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Talent staffers make plans after election loss

Saturday, November 11, 2006

By TJ GREANEY

Southeast Missourian

Sen. Jim Talent's staff members are finding out after a disappointing election that transition is not always easy.

"When I first worked for Bill Emerson in the early '80s, I learned that I was serving at the pleasure of a person who had to reapply for his job every two years," said Lloyd Smith, who took a leave of absence from his post with Rep. Jo Ann Emerson last year to serve as senior adviser to Talent's re-election campaign. "... So it's probably easier for me than others to look down the road."

Talent employed an average of 40 people on his official staff in the year ending in April 2006. During that time taxpayers paid $2.14 million in salaries to these employees, according to Legistorm.com, an online watchdog of congressional staff salaries.

Smith has little doubt the people who worked on Talent's re-election campaign and on Capitol Hill will land on their feet. "The ones working in the official office will transition back there for a short time and get some things sorted out," he said.

"There are those looking for different opportunities in government, some looking to get into state politics and some looking to transition into the corporate world. Some are just looking to take some time off and start families," he said.

For Smith, it's right back into the fire of policy-making. He'll return to his former post as chief of staff to Emerson.

Jeff Glenn served as Talent's district office manager for the Cape Girardeau office, one of six statewide. Glenn declined to be interviewed, saying only, "It's not about me, it's about the senator."

One open question is whether senator-elect Claire McCaskill will keep the district office in Cape Girardeau. Sen. Kit Bond was the first U.S. senator to open a district office in Cape Girardeau when first elected in 1986; since then, most senators occupying the other Missouri seat have kept that office.

Talent has kept an office at 339 Broadway since his election.

"It's too early to say at this point. There's still too much celebration going on," said local Democratic supporter Thomas Meyer. "We would like to have her here, and because of the Federal Building it almost makes it mandatory to have some type of presence."

Meyer said he expects to know within 30 days and has had conversations with people close to McCaskill giving him reason to be optimistic about keeping the office. "Claire still has her roots in the outstate area, so if it came down to choices, I think she'll want to stay in outstate Missouri," he said.

Local lawyer and Democratic fund-raiser Don Dickerson said he hopes to speak with McCaskill sometime next week and will bring up the matter.

"I certainly hope she'll have an office here," he said. "It's very good for us to have that type of service office in Southeast Missouri, but it's all a matter of funds and allocation and availability."

tgreaney@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245


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