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Father of the Bride

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) couldn’t settle for any old venue in his Queens district for his only daughter’s wedding, so he went to bat for her and got the owners of the New York Mets to open up Shea Stadium for Saturday’s nuptials.

So Lauren Ackerman, an editor of children’s books at Simon & Schuster, will be exchanging vows at home plate with Paul Forte, who works at Atlantic Records.

The Congressman joked to HOH that with the hapless Mets playing on the West Coast this weekend, “attendance will be up” when the Ackerman family takes over the ballpark.

A traditional Jewish wedding canopy will be thrown

over home plate, and the reception will be up in the swank Diamond Club. “They don’t know that they’ve ever done a wedding before, so it might be a new business for them,” said Ackerman.

The lawmaker said the betrothed couple wanted something “different” for their wedding, so Ackerman casually mentioned the possibility of Shea Stadium during a breakfast with the owners of the Mets.

“They said, ‘We can do that,’” recalled Ackerman. “They gave me a fair deal — a lot of peanuts and hot dogs. We expect people to throw popcorn and Cracker Jacks.”

That’s not to say the father of the bride

isn’t nervous about a couple of things. “We don’t have a rain date,” he said, fretting about the endless flow of precipitation drowning the East Coast these days.

“We haven’t vetted all the guests,” he added. “So we expect there will be some Yankees fans.”

Trouble in Carolina? Evidence continues to trickle in that Sen. John Edwards (D) is losing support in his home state of North Carolina.

While Rep. Bob Etheridge (D) has decided to endorse Edwards’ presidential campaign, the same cannot be said for the Congressman’s chief of staff, Julie Dwyer.

Tongues have been wagging about the fact that Dwyer has been spotted driving around Capitol Hill with a bumper sticker expressing support for the presidential bid of Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor. Dwyer dodged several calls left at her office Tuesday.

It’s only one vote. But given the fact that Edwards has already seen his favorability ratings slide back home — suggesting that he would have an extremely difficult time defending his Senate seat if he runs for re-election in 2004 — rival presidential camps were amused by the latest defection.

“Does Bobby Etheridge’s staff know something John Edwards doesn’t?” cracked one Democratic strategist. “We knew John Edwards couldn’t carry his home state against George W. Bush, but now his own supporters are hedging their bets in the primary.

“John Edwards has more problems at home than Bill Clinton did after the Starr Report.”

Bush Era Over? Senate Democratic aides were chuckling Tuesday about the fact that President Bush declared that the “era of low expectations is over” during an education press event.

Andy Davis, spokesman for Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), quickly fired off an e-mail to other press secretaries noting comments that the end of such an era might not be good news for the president.

At his June 5 Middle East peace summit, Bush declared, “I’m the master of low expectations. I think we did what we wanted to. I think we accomplished what I hoped we would accomplish, but I don’t think we necessarily exceeded expectations. I think ‘met expectations’ is a better way to put it.”

Reflecting on the two statements, Davis told HOH, “I just thought it was a humorous juxtaposition.”

Bayh Loses Round One to Clinton. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) seems to have picked a slightly inopportune time to have his new book about responsible fatherhood, “From Father to Son,” published.

He’s competing right now with a lady by the name of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who just so happens to have the largest first-day sale of any nonfiction work ever with this week’s publication of her memoir, “Living History.”

Since some Democratic insiders believe there’s a reasonable chance that Bayh and Clinton will be facing off for the Democratic nomination in 2008, it appears that the Book Primary has at least gone to the New Yorker — though there’s plenty of time for the Indiana Senator to catch up in more pivotal primaries like New Hampshire.

While Clinton’s D.C. book party next week is expected to be one of the hottest tickets in town, Bayh had a more subdued bash Monday night on Capitol Hill. The Democratic Leadership Council, where Bayh serves as chairman, threw him a party at the Frederick Douglass museum.

Some of Bayh’s good friends, such as Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.), stopped by. There were also visits from Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.).

While Clinton has soared to No. 2 in the sales ranking behind the latest book in the “Harry Potter” series, Bayh’s ranking was 50,679 as of Tuesday afternoon. And then there’s the anecdotal evidence.

Karen Dunn, Clinton’s press secretary, was spotted at the B. Dalton book shop in Union Station trying to find a copy of her boss’s book during lunchtime Monday. Dunn already got her copy, of course, but she was hoping to land a few more copies to hand out as gifts to friends.

After Dunn tried in vain to find the tome, an employee informed her that the store’s 80 to 100 copies had sold out in just a few hours.

“It’s not surprising,” said the employee.

When pressed for details Tuesday, Dunn told HOH, “Book? What book? I don’t know what you are talking about.”

Justice Specter? In a mischievous little letter to Bush on Tuesday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) be appointed to the Supreme Court when the next vacancy arises.

Schumer, who also included several federal judges appointed by then-President Ronald Reagan on his list, claims his goal is to help Bush find “someone who all 100 Senators can support, not just 51 Republicans.”

In addition to Specter, Schumer recommended Ann Williams of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Edward Prado of the 5th Circuit; Michael Mukasey of the Southern District of New York; and Stanley Marcus of the 11th Circuit.

Insisting that his goals were pure, Schumer added that he was also motivated by the desire to make sure the Senate is able to exercise its “advise and consent” function as laid out in the Constitution.

Sure, Specter is a Republican Senator whose successor would be appointed by Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell. But really — politics had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

“I appreciate Senator Schumer’s recommendation,” Specter told HOH. “But I am sure that the president already has his short list if a vacancy arises.”

Court watchers will note, however, that Specter did not completely shut the door. Still, it seems unlikely that Bush would pick someone who openly supports abortion rights — or someone who might be guided by Scottish law.

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