Lockhart may leave Clinton press post before January

WASHINGTON, DC: Joe Lockhart, one of the biggest fish in the DC PR pond, may be swimming free earlier than anyone anticipated.

WASHINGTON, DC: Joe Lockhart, one of the biggest fish in the DC PR pond, may be swimming free earlier than anyone anticipated.

WASHINGTON, DC: Joe Lockhart, one of the biggest fish in the DC PR

pond, may be swimming free earlier than anyone anticipated.



A small item in The Washington Post saying that the highly regarded

White House press secretary may be reentering the private work force as

early as October continued to loom large in the minds of the heads of

DC’s biggest PR firms last week.



While Lockhart will step away from the podium by next January at the

latest - it is a virtual certainty that he will leave the

ultra-high-profile press secretary position even if Gore wins the

presidency - administration staffers often abandon their jobs early in

order to beat the pack that changes jobs in January.



Whenever they choose to leave, Lockhart and other top Clinton

administration voices won’t be unemployed for long, several DC sources

predicted last week. ’These guys are in their 40s and here’s their

chance to do something that can be fun and allow them to make money,

too,’ said Paul Bedard, who writes the ’Washington Whispers’ column for

US News & World Report.



Bedard speculated that Lockhart may find advising a PR agency’s clients

on crisis communications more satisfying than a staid corporate job.



Given Lockhart’s background - he has worked in TV news, political

campaigns and PR at Robinson Lerer Sawyer & Miller in addition to his

White House stint - he will be a prized catch for whoever successfully

reels him in.



’Not only does he know the nation’s business, he knows our business

too,’ said Leslie Dach, vice chair and GM of Edelman’s DC office.



Should he decide to re-enter PR, Lockhart should be able to command a

mid-level six-figure salary. ’His value to a firm is determined by the

fact that he has survived and thrived in the toughest media environment

in the world,’ said Ketchum/DC office director Mark Schannon.



However, it’s far from certain that Lockhart will accept a PR post. He

could decide to rejoin the news media or pursue teaching, writing,

consulting and speaking gigs.



Of course, the memory of what might have been may affect Lockhart’s

decision: by enlisting with President Clinton rather than America

Online, he is said to have passed up stock options that would be worth

as much as dollars 10 million today.



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