With a difficult and ultimately unsuccessful campaign behind him, Connecticut Democratic Rep. Jim Maloney is considering a future in higher education or the nonprofit sector.

Maloney’s six years in Congress are coming to a close after his loss to Rep. Nancy Johnson. Connecticut is losing one of its six House seats because its population growth lagged other states in the 2000 Census. The two incumbents were thrown together in a newly redrawn 5th District.

After an expensive race that included negative campaigning on both sides, Maloney’s staff is packing boxes, taking pictures off walls and wrapping up last-minute constituent requests. Maloney’s two main offices are in Washington and Waterbury, Conn., and there are smaller satellite operations in Danbury, Meriden and Derby.

“I don’t ever remember ducking a fight. I didn’t want to start now,” he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press, saying he saw the election from the start as an uphill struggle.

After a beach vacation with his wife, Maloney said he will spend some time weighing offers. He hasn’t ruled out a future run for public office.

“I’m looking forward to new challenges,” he said. “That’s what life is all about.”

For now, Maloney, 54, wants to stay connected to public life and is not inclined to return to private legal practice — where he spent 16 years doing mostly commercial real estate work — or to become a lobbyist.

More interesting, he said, is the possibility of working as a college or university administrator, maybe with some teaching on the side, or running a nonprofit or trade group. The former director of Danbury’s anti-poverty agency, Maloney said he’s been approached by one organization but has not yet made any decisions.

Maloney, who lives with his wife and three teenage daughters in Danbury, wants to stay in Connecticut. While in Congress he kept an apartment not far from Capitol Hill and commuted weekly, a pattern that would likely continue should he take another job in Washington.

Looking back, Maloney’s greatest satisfaction in Congress came from efforts to help those back home, whether by increasing funding for Black Hawk helicopters made by Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft, securing federal aid to stop flooding in Meriden or opening federally funded community health clinics in Waterbury and Meriden. Among the broader issues he worked on were expanded medical services for women in the military and the creation of special anti-terrorism National Guard teams around the country.

Other projects, like trying to secure a federal health clinic in Danbury and redesigning Interstate 84, are left undone. But Maloney is happy to leave behind the political bickering he says colors virtually every congressional debate.

In Washington, there are “a lot more personal vendettas. I attribute that, frankly, to people having been there too long,” he said. “They build up these grievances. That’s the thing I will miss the least.”

–Associated Press