Washington — The political rap against many of the congressmen defeated in the recent election was that their tenure in Washington had left them "out of touch" with voters back home.
Now a large share of these newly out-of-office lawmakers are choosing to settle down -- where else? -- in Washington.
Of the 15 outgoing senators who are resuming active careers, 10 have found jobs in the nation's capital, are planning to do so, or are seeking federal appointments. The same goes for many departing members of the House of Representatives.
Take, for example, former Sen. George McGovern (D) of South Dakota, the Democratic Party's 1972 presidential candidate who after 18 years in Washington was accused by his political opponents of having grown "disloyal to his constituents."
He was voted out of the Senate but is still in Washington, chairing a group known as Americans for Common Sense, organized to counter the growing power of the conservative New Right.
Three of his outgoing Senate colleagues have become Washington lawyers -- Frank Church (D) of Idaho (practicing international law, as befits the former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee), John A. Durkin (D) of New Hampshire, and Adlai E. Stevenson III (D) of Illinois (who retired voluntarily).
A fourth, former Sen. Birch Bayh (D) of Indiana plans to practice law in Washington and Indianapolis after completing a 2 1/2-month college lecture tour.
Former Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D) of Wisconsin is chairman of the Wilderness Society, a Washington-based environmental lobbying group devoted chiefly to protecting public lands.
One of the large class of exiting senators, Richard S. Schweiker (R) of Pennsylvania, has landed a post in the Reagan Cabinet as secretary of health and human services.
Two others are reliably reported to be soliciting jobs in the new administration. Jacob K. Javits (R) of New York, now an adjunct professor of public affairs at Columbia University in New York City, is touted as next ambassador to Mexico. Richard B. Stone (D) of Florida is said to be in line for an appointment to the Department of State.
Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D) of Alaska is setting up a natural resources consulting business based in Washington and Anchorage.
Many retiring representatives, too, find life along the Potomac more alluring than returning to hometowns like Portsmouth, Ohio, or Portland, Ore. A major attraction is the power-broker world of Washington lawyering, lobbying, and consulting.
Former Rep. Robert B. Duncan (D) of Oregon will try his hand at lobbying in the branch office he is opening here for a Portland law firm. Former Rep. William H. Harsha (R) of Ohio is forsaking Portsmouth, Ohio, to become a transportation consultant not far from Capitol Hill, where he learned his specialty.
After 20 years in the House, former Rep. James C. Corman (D) of California is staying on as an attorney in the Washington office of a Los Angeles law firm.
Former Rep. John H. Buchanan Jr. (R) of Alabama, a Baptist minister, is not returning to the pulpit but remaining in the capital to represent Southern Baptists on social issues.
Another popular calling for ex-lawmakers reentering private life, whether in Washington or elsewhere, is college teaching. Former Senator McGovern, besides his other activities, is a visiting professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., much like former Senator Javits at Columbia.
Former Sen. John C. Culver (D) of Iowa divides his time between practicing law in Cedar Rapids and teaching at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, his alma mater.
Meanwhile, former Rep. John B. Anderson (R) of Illinois, the independent candidate for president last year, has signed on as a visiting professor at the University of Illinois. Similarly, former Rep. Robert F. Drinan (D) of Massachusetts, one-time dean of the Boston College Law School, will teach law at Georgetown University in Washington.
Not all congressmen who leave office, however, stick around to savor the heady atmosphere of the capital.
One who hasn't is ex-Rep. Edward P. Beard (D) of Rhode Island. He's back in Cranston working at his old trade: house painting.