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Jumping Into the Fray

In a surprise move bound to tick off other Sunshine State candidates, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (Va.) is expected to announce Monday that he is putting his weight behind former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez (R) in the crowded Florida Senate race. The NRSC will remain neutral.

Knowledgeable sources say Allen will make the announcement during an afternoon sit-down with reporters at the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters. Martinez will also be present. [IMGCAP(1)]

The NRSC chairman’s public endorsement in the race, while not unprecedented, is considered rare and sure to stir controversy.

Martinez’s most prominent rival is former Rep. Bill McCollum (R), who lost a 2000 Senate bid. While McCollum leads in early polls, GOP insiders have privately questioned the former Congressman’s strength as the party’s general election nominee.

McCollum and Martinez are the leading GOP contenders in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Graham (D), but there are a total of six Republicans running in the Aug. 31 primary. Martinez left his post in the Bush administration late last year and entered the Senate race in January, after being urged to run by top White House officials.

Still, President Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), have maintained that they are staying neutral in the race.

Yeah, right.

Is This Thing On? The Senate Judiciary Committee is embarrassed — again.

Fingers are still being pointed over who is responsible for leaving the live Web audio feed on during Thursday’s confidential, closed-door session to consider controversial judicial nominee Henry Saad of Michigan.

Senators were deep into their private meeting, raising and answering questions about the contents of Saad’s FBI background check when the alarming call came that the entire private session was being streamed live on C-SPAN’s audio Web site:

Senate security officials are conducting an investigation into “the sequence of events that led to the unauthorized audio broadcast” of the closed session, according to a Judiciary Committee aide.

All they know at this point, the aide said, is that the committee’s practice of not broadcasting executive business meetings “was not followed.”

Brad McGuire, the content manager of, explained that all of the Senate committee rooms are wired to stream audio. “If the feed is on, it streams through the Web site live,” he said.

It’s up to the committee to turn off the feed during private sessions, McGuire said.

True, indeed, a GOP Judiciary Committee aide confirmed.

The Judiciary Committee has been buffeted since November over accusations of mismanagement and incompetence following the revelation that two former Republican staffers downloaded 4,670 internal Democratic memos from a committee computer over an 18-month period.

Democrats, predictably, were outraged and called for an investigation. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Pickle, a former top official with the Secret Service, brought in several of his former colleagues to help run the probe, which has since been referred to the Justice Department.

In early March, the Judiciary Committee released what was supposed to be a redacted report on Pickle’s probe. But unfortunately for all those people who were named, the report mistakenly failed to include any redactions.

Lasorda at Bat. Add baseball icon Tommy Lasorda to the list of people who support the Washington, D.C., area’s bid for a Major League Baseball club. The former Los Angeles Dodgers manager told HOH it’s important for D.C., a city orphaned by MLB after the 1971 season, to have its own team.

“Our nation’s capital deserves to have a major league team,” Lasorda said before attending the National Italian American Foundation lunch last week on Capitol Hill. “I think this time the people here will support a major league team. I think they deserve it and I am hoping that they get it.”

For many old-time Washingtonians, bitter feelings still linger over MLB’s decision to allow the Washington Senators to leave town, not once but twice in the past 44 years. (The original Senators moved to Minnesota in 1960 and were renamed the Twins. A new Senators team was formed, but it moved to Texas after the 1971 season to Texas and was renamed the Rangers.)

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos — who owns the only MLB ball club between Maryland and Georgia — has been fighting D.C.’s latest bid to land the very likely to be relocated Montreal Expos. But Lasorda thinks it is absurd to think the area could not support two teams.

With the Angels and the Dodgers in Los Angeles, the Athletics and the Giants in San Francisco, the White Sox and the Cubs in Chicago, “Why the hell couldn’t two teams survive here?” Lasorda asked.

Being on Capitol Hill and what not, Lasorda went on to proudly profess his Republican credentials.

“I think the president is doing a fantastic job,” Lasorda said. “I think he is doing more than anyone anticipated. He has kept this country free of terrorists. He built up the economy and I think he deserves to be re-elected.”

But Lasorda doesn’t want Bush to have a lonely victory, saying he hopes Republicans retain majorities in both the House and Senate.

With all of his talk of Republican loyalty, HOH became confused when later in the day, Lasorda was seen exiting a private meeting of Democratic Senators.

It turns out Lasorda attended the meeting with Jack Valenti, Hollywood’s top lobbyist who spoke to Senate Democrats about intellectual property piracy. Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (N.D.) said political strategy was not discussed at the meeting but he hoped the Democratic ideals rubbed off on the former major league manager.

A Swarm of Republicans? The 17-year Brood X cicadas could be emerging as key players in national presidential politics.

It started with an Internet campaign video created by the Republican National Committee. The downright raunchy attack ad, e-mailed to hundreds of thousands of people across the country, featured a randy brood of amber-bug-eyed cicadas swarming and mating and then — freshly sexed — morphing into Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

OK, that was weird enough.

Now comes the GOP prophecy that because of this year’s emergence of the Brood X periodical cicadas, odds are high in President Bush’s favor that he will be a two-term president.

Here goes the theory: Looking back over history in 17-year intervals, more Republicans than Democrats won the presidency in Brood X years. The last invasion occurred in 1987, and George H.W. Bush was elected the following year. Seventeen years before that, Richard Nixon was in office, and 17 years before him, Dwight Eisenhower was taking over the Oval Office. (Of course, the Brood X Republican program was interrupted temporarily, 17 years before Eisenhower’s first presidential victory, to bring you more of the New Deal and the Great Society.)

To the best of HOH’s knowledge, Rep. Steven LaTourette (Ohio) was the first Republican to go public with the cicada-Bush prediction. He did it last week on WTAM radio in Cleveland.

“You have to look for answers, anything that tells the future,” he said. And the truth, he believes, lies with the little critters who keep us up all night with the torturous sound of a hovering spacecraft.

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), on the same radio station, said he’s not surprised that Republicans are aligning themselves with cicadas: “The cicada sort of does remind me of Republicans. They bury their heads in the ground for years. When they come up, they don’t really say anything.”

Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the RNC, keeping in tune with the attack ads against Kerry, said Democrats are too much like cicadas — “highly visible, very noisy” and “they work very hard to shed their former selves and then they disappear.” Ergo, she said, candidates who act like cicadas are not going to win in November.

That’s one way of looking at it, says Democratic National Committee spokesman Jano Cabrera. “Another is that every 17 years, the American people are plagued with soulless invaders who devour all in their path, mindlessly ignoring the damage they’re causing, fixated only on their own selfish needs.”

“And in addition to the Republicans, voters have to put up with cicadas to boot,” he adds.

Lauren W. Whittington and Mark Preston contributed to this report.

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