Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 23, 2014

September 17, 2014

Grover Norquist’s Burning Man Dream Team

Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist so enjoyed his time at Burning Man this year that he’d like to return next summer with a “Dream Team” of Republican lawmakers.

A festival virgin, Norquist admitted to HOH that his presuppositions of what transpires each August in the pop-up community in northwestern Nevada might have been a tad off-base.

“I thought everybody dressed up almost in costume,” he said, sharing that he’d carted along a Guy Fawkes mask, a Russian-style army jacket and French foreign legion hat (complete with neck flaps) for his four-day stay in the desert.

Once there, the conservative firebrand quickly realized being a freethinker doesn’t always correlate to acting freaky. Full story

Chuck Grassley’s Birthday Blizzard

Chuck Grassleys Birthday Blizzard

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Grassley plans to put a birthday present to good use to grab himself a Dairy Queen Blizzard, but he hasn’t quite decided on the flavor yet.

“Either Reese’s or Snickers,” the Iowa Republican said Wednesday.

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced during a committee hearing that he and ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah were giving Grassley the gift certificate to Dairy Queen for his 81st birthday. Grassley is a former chairman and ranking member of the Finance panel.

Grassley’s birthday coincides with Constitution Day, which he highlighted on Twitter by announcing he had completed his annual 6.21-mile birthday run from his D.C. house to the Capitol, dubbed the “Home to the Dome” run. Grassley said his usual run is 3 miles.

Grassley also received birthday greetings from his longtime Iowa colleague, Tom Harkin.

 

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NRSC Kicks It Old School Online

Turns out, the coding masters at Wide Eye Creative aren’t the only ones having fun behind your computer screen.

A National Republican Senatorial Committee operative said his group gave itself a little pat on the back during a recent Web overhaul.

 

NRSC Kicks It Old School Online

(Screenshot)

 

“We’re the rare Republican ASCII-bird, I guess,” the tipster said of the three-dimensional NRSC logo embedded in the GOP portal’s back end.

HOH scanned a smattering of Republican-related pages in search of online “Easter eggs” similar to those WEC automatically weaves into its digital branding for Democrats, but we came up empty-handed.

Related story:

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind The Scenes

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The Maine Attraction: Getting a Taste of the Chellie Pingree Experience

The Maine Attraction: Getting a Taste of the Chellie Pingree Experience

Boats sit moored in the harbor off North Haven, Maine, home of the Nebo Lodge owned by Pingree. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

ROCKLAND, Maine — Once aboard the boat that will speed us to North Haven, a Connecticut man opens up about his affinity for the Pine Tree State.

“It’s just waves and rocks and sky. It’s very relaxing after a year of work,” he said of his annual sojourn north.

A Camden, Maine, resident relates how he and his wife make their way across the white-capped expanse for dinner at least once each summer; he hopes to spend a night at Nebo Lodge sometime in order to take the full measure of the island.

The Maine Attraction: Getting a Taste of the Chellie Pingree ExperienceSo go the conversations aboard the Equinox, the privately owned boat tasked with moving mainlanders across the 12 miles of open water that separates Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree’s dining empire from the contiguous United States.

Equinox Captain John Morin calculates he’s transported some 2,200 people to North Haven over the course of this summer. And he loves to educate them about how their patronage benefits the community at large.

Full story

September 16, 2014

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind the Scenes

There are those who suspect that politicians and, by extension, their corresponding messaging operations, will say one thing even if they secretly believe something else entirely.

Not so with Wide Eye Creative, a Web design outfit which champions its clients every bit of the way.

BuzzFeed’s Jeremy Singer-Vine stumbled upon just how deep the site developer’s devotion permeates while sniffing around the back end of Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign page.

 

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind the Scenes

(Screenshot)

 

Those who view the page via its assigned URL would never know about the ASCII love Team WEC tucked into the coding language — because it’s not meant for them.

“Just a nice little easter egg for anyone who looks at the code,” WEC creative director Ben Ostrower said of the digital valentine inserted into a jumble of characters that give the Web meaning.

According to Ostrower, WEC began seeding its political sites with similar signatures about a year ago. Full story

Overheard: This Is Your Brain on Baked and Wired

“Could you put me back on hold? I’ll hang up in a bit, but I really like your hold music.”

— Man on phone at Georgetown’s Baked and Wired.

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Female Senators Work as a Team, Gillibrand Assures Supporters

If there’s one thing Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has come to appreciate about working on Capitol Hill (there’s gotta be something good about #ThisTown, right?), it’s the collaborative environment she and the other 19 female senators have joined forces to foster.

Female Senators Work as a Team, Gillibrand Assures Supporters

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“We cheer each other on,” the New York Democrat told well-wishers at a D.C. book party about the camaraderie the female pols have developed in their respective chamber.

“We don’t agree on everything. But we often want to find the common ground, because we want to get things done,” she explained to HOH. “And that makes a huge difference.”

Gillbrand trumpeted the workplace sisterhood during remarks she gave at a cocktail party in honor of her new book, “Off the Sidelines.” Political activist Connie Milstein, someone Gillibrand has apparently come to count on, opened up her fabulous art-filled home for the event.

“I’m just grateful for every bit of generosity you’ve ever extended,” Gillibrand thanked the beaming host. Full story

The Maine Attraction: Chellie Pingree Cultivates Her Own Food Capital

The Maine Attraction: Chellie Pingree Cultivates Her Own Food Capital

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NORTH HAVEN, Maine — Should she ever tire of battling opposing lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Rep. Chellie Pingree could always kick back and indulge in one of her favorite pastimes: shaking cocktails for the pleasure seekers who pour into her farm-to-table restaurant each summer.

“I am always telling people that it’s good to have a backup career when you are in Congress. And being a bartender isn’t really that different,” the Maine Democrat shared during a candid discussion about her blossoming dining empire.

Still, the three-term lawmaker insists she never planned on becoming a hospitality maven.

“When I bought the inn, I really intended it to be more of a community project to help create a few jobs … and make sure that it was easier for people to find lodging when they had a guest coming,” Pingree said.

The Maine Attraction: Chellie Pingree Cultivates Her Own Food Capital

But her budding portfolio, which includes the critically acclaimed Nebo Lodge and its larder-filling sibling, Turner Farm, appears to be steadily outperforming her modest ambitions. She currently employs about 70-plus people (predominantly women) in a community comprised of around 300 year-round residents.

How this fledgling restaurateur managed to become the toast of her floating-in-Penobscot-Bay town is no big mystery.

She planted the seeds for this unexpected success decades ago. Full story

September 15, 2014

Montana State Society to Spike Mendelsohn: Que Cojones

Montana State Society President Jayne Leffingwell wants hospitality heavy Spike Mendelsohn to man up and get his own thing going.

Montana State Society to Spike Mendelsohn: Que Cojones

(Screenshot)

“Mendelsohn aka the Ballburglar, is attempting to hijack The Montana State Society’s signature event ‘The DC Testy Fest’ by hosting his own DC Festicle. While a testivus for the rest of us sounds fun, stealing our original sack lunch is not ‘Good Stuff,’” Leffingwell said in a tongue-in-cheek statement.

The Montana State Society has done its part to exalt the nether regions-related nosh for more than  a decade now. Mendelsohn is jumping into the fray on Sept. 21 with the unveiling of Spiked Events’ debut soiree, a come-as-you-are affair featuring live music, micro wrestling, circus performers and culinary cook-offs.

Per Festicle promotional materials, Mendelsohn is expected to face off against fellow toques Erik Bruner-Yang, of Toki Underground fame, and Tim Ma, the driving force behind Maple Ave and the newish Water & Wall, in a “Top Chef-style” competition where the contestants will have to conjure up some tasty from the featured testes.

And that just rubs Leffingwell raw.

“With more than 750+ attendees going nuts and consuming nearly 200 lbs of testicles this year, we like to consider ourselves the reigning rocky mountain oyster aficionados,” she maintained.

“The ball is in your court Mr. Mendelsohn. We’ll see how you measure up,” Leffingwell said.

 

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Tim Ryan Dresses Down Urban Outfitters Over Sweatshirt-gate

Bizarrely stained outer wear that Urban Outfitters rather unbelievably tied to Kent State University has made Rep. Tim Ryan’s blood boil.

Tim Ryan Dresses Down Urban Outfitters Over Sweatshirt gate

(Screenshot)

 

“On May 4, 1970, four students lost their lives at Kent State University and changed our country forever. It is deplorable for Urban Outfitters to exploit the pain and suffering of this national tragedy for their gain,” the Ohio Democrat said in a tersely worded official statement. “May 4th was a seminal and transformational moment in American history and we should never lose sight of its immense impact. Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”

Ryan is referring, of course, to the horror scene that unfolded in Kent, Ohio, some 44 years ago, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Vietnam War protestors, killing four students and wounding nine others.

Full story

Rock On, Rockland

Rock On, Rockland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

ROCKLAND, Maine – It may be a small town, but Rockland’s got a lot going for it.

The Maine Lobster Festival drives droves of shellfish lovers to the shores of the Penobscot Bay each August, the plastic bib-draped masses assembling to honor (and devour) the region’s claim to fame.

Bumping into newsmakers is evidently not uncommon. One New Yorker, who relocated to the area with his wife after their youngest flew the coop, said he catches sight of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. from time to time in neighboring St. George.

“He’s totally normal up here. Doesn’t like anyone to call him judge,” the Empire State expat said of his dealings with the summering Supreme Courter.

Natives, it would seem, have very specific tastes when it comes to conducting their day-to-day affairs.

Core concerns include keeping:

Activities al fresco (topless freecycling, anyone?)

 

Rock On, Rockland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Rock On, Rockland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Full story

September 14, 2014

Congress, Bringing Up the Rear on ISIS | Capitol Quip

Congress, Bringing Up the Rear on ISIS | Capitol Quip

Congress seems to be unified that President Barack Obama needs to do something about the situation in Iraq and Syria. What that is, is a little less clear — given the muddled message from members. This brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip captioning contest.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

 

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By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Eric Cantor, at a Loss | Capitol Quip

Eric Cantor, at a Loss | Capitol Quip

Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry, as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill.

The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R. J. Matson. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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Mark Sanford Surprised Maria Belen Chapur With Facebook Post; She Blames Politics For Breakup

Mark Sanford Surprised Maria Belen Chapur With Facebook Post; She Blames Politics For Breakup

Chapur and Sanford in happier times. (Courtesy CNN)

Mark Sanford asked fiancee Maria Belen Chapur to wait two more years for a wedding. She said no — and Sanford then surprised her by writing that epic, now infamous Facebook post announcing the breakup and blaming the split on an ugly custody battle with his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford.

Chapur told The New York Times in an interview from Paris — where she had just spent a week with Sanford — that the South Carolina Republican wanted her to wait two more years for a wedding, an offer she rejected.

“I’ve already been five years waiting and two years since the engagement,” she said, when asking why she wrote to Sanford and rejected his offer of waiting two more years as a girlfriend before matrimony.

She told the paper she thinks the request by Sanford to wait two more years had more to do with his political ambitions than with his custody dispute, though in two years the custody dispute would be moot.

“I think that I was not useful to him anymore — he made the engagement thing four months before the elections,” Chapur told the Times. “So this is not about his son, this is about his career and his ambitions,” she said, even as she called Sanford “the love of my life.”

Full story

By Steven T. Dennis Posted at 10:12 a.m.
Uncategorized

September 12, 2014

Bill Maher Names Flip a District Pick

Bill Maher Names Flip a District Pick

Kline is the target of Bill Maher’s Flip a District effort. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated: 3:44 p.m. | From now until Election Day, comedian Bill Maher has made it his mission to ensure Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., does not come back to Congress.

On Friday evening, Maher announced Kline as the target of his Flip a District campaign after the six-term Republican garnered the most votes from viewers during a live taping of his HBO program, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C.

“I know what you’re thinking: You never heard of John Kline,”  said Maher, who added Kline is “one of those silent threats you never see coming … He’s not funny. He’s just wrong about everything.” Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 10:46 p.m.
FightingWords, Reps

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