Bill Wichterman, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) who has been one of the key Senate staffers involved in the fight over judicial nominations, is leaving for the slightly less contentious -- and better paid -- world of lobbyists.

A veteran of Senate and House staffs for 18 years, Wichterman starts Monday at Covington & Burling as a senior legislative adviser in the old-line Washington law firm's government affairs practice. He'll focus on health care, intellectual property, asbestos and litigation reform issues.

The majority leader's former counsel, Martin B. Gold, is co-chairman of Covington's government affairs practice.

Wichterman says he "loved working for" Frist, but with three little children, "there were too many nights kissing them asleep."

A policy adviser to Frist, Wichterman took over the judicial nominations work last year after Frist's former top aide on judicial nominees, Manuel Miranda, resigned in the flap over leaked Democratic memos at the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, a group established in 2002 to support President Bush's judicial nominees, said Wichterman was "an invaluable conduit of information and strategy advice," adding, "It is difficult to imagine [Frist's] successful effort to end the Democratic judicial filibusters without Bill. Everyone likes him, and more importantly, everyone trusts him."

Frist's chief of staff Eric Ueland said that Cherie Harder, a newcomer in Frist's office, "is a strong and capable replacement who won't miss a step ensuring appropriately qualified and capable judges yield gavels on the federal bench." Harder previously was senior counselor to the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

More Frist Connections

Speaking of former Frist people . . . Dean A. Rosen, the majority leader's health policy director, has joined Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. Earlier, Rosen worked for the House Ways and Means Committee and the Health Insurance Association of America. Name partner Alex Vogel worked with Rosen in Frist's office.

New Leadership at CFJ

And speaking of the fight over nominations . . . The Committee for Justice this week announced new co-chairmen: Spencer Abraham, energy secretary during Bush's first term and a former Republican senator from Michigan; and Ronald A. Cass, president of Cass & Associates, former dean of Boston University's law school and a member of the International Trade Commission under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

C. Boyden Gray, nominated to be ambassador to the European Union, remains chairman for now. The group apparently did not want to appear presumptuous and say Abraham and Cass would be replacing Gray -- until he is confirmed.

Foreign Service Vet Joins APCO

A. Elizabeth Jones, formerly assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, is moving to APCO, a consulting, lobbying and communications shop. Other key folks at APCO include former senator Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.) and Stuart E. Eizenstat, former ambassador to the European Union, who is a senior counselor to APCO and a Covington lawyer.

Jones will work with APCO's "business diplomacy" group, advising companies that want to work with foreign governments and foreign clients that need help understanding the U.S. government.

A 35-year veteran of the Foreign Service, Jones says "there's a lot of crossover with what we did in the Foreign Service and government and what APCO does." She is covered by a one-year ban on lobbying her former colleagues at State.

Schooling the Educators

Since decamping from the Bush administration, former education secretary Roderick R. Paige and a band of former aides are setting up a consulting group to advise clients on how to improve education as well as deal with the No Child Left Behind Act and other policies they helped create or implement.

The firm is the Chartwell Education Group. John Danielson, Paige's former chief of staff and the new company's chief executive, says Chartwell is not a lobby shop. Danielson says it will be bipartisan, with several Democrats slated to sign on in the coming weeks. "Kids don't have political parties and Chartwell doesn't either," he said.

Others at Chartwell who used to work at Education include William Hansen, the former No. 2 at the department; Susan Sclafani, Paige's chief adviser on matters of vocational and adult education; Ron Tomalis, acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education; and Mary Jane Pearson, Paige's regional representative in San Francisco.

New CEO at Realtors Group

A new leader for the National Association of Realtors: Dale A. Stinton, a veteran official at the 1 million-member trade group, was named chief executive yesterday. He starts Nov. 1, succeeding Terry McDermott, who is retiring.

Stinton, who joined the Realtors association 24 years ago, is currently the group's chief financial and chief information officer, and has been responsible for its political action committee, RPAC.