Tuesday, March 7, 2006

He didn't know it then, but Joe Andrew's departure from national politics in early 2001 was an inflection point in the trajectory of his life and career.

A successful stint in Indiana politics had propelled the lawyer and businessman to the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee in 1999. But he left after Al Gore's loss in 2000, replaced by the higher-profile Terence R. McAuliffe.

And, in contrast with his party's declining political fortunes, Andrew has prospered in his career as a Washington-based lawyer who consults for corporations that are regulated by the federal government regarding mergers and acquisitions.

"So much of my business and personal success came after being DNC chair," he said. "I've negotiated deals in excess of $50 billion. The bad days have been in the politics that I supported."

Andrew, 46, grew up on a farm near Fort Wayne, Ind., and received his bachelor's and law degrees from Yale University. After spending time on Wall Street, he returned to Indiana, where he got involved in politics in 1984. He also started several businesses.

After leading the Indiana Democratic Party for several years, he took the DNC post. But after the 2000 election, which he called a "traumatic process," Andrew returned to the private sector.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Andrew had a ticket for the American Airlines plane that took off from Dulles International Airport and crashed into the Pentagon. Hours before takeoff, he switched to a later flight; his name was initially on released copies of the flight manifest.

In 2003, Andrew considered a bid for governor of Indiana until the Democratic incumbent announced he would run.

Andrew has worked on several major U.S. financial transactions, such as the merger of health insurance concerns Anthem Inc. and WellPoint Health Networks Inc., and currently is a partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.

Andrew, who lives in Bethesda, is also chairman of the New Democrat Network, a centrist group. He says he has "no aspirations to be involved in government" but says his financial success in recent years is "making sure that I have the ability to reengage in politics."

-- Zachary A. Goldfarb

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