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Political Nirvana

Krist Novoselic, former bassist for the legendary grunge band Nirvana, was hanging out on Capitol Hill on Monday. An HOH informant said she spotted Novoselic, who is a political activist in his home state of Washington, in the basement hallway of the Longworth House Office Building “speaking passionately about something” with an unidentified staffer.

Turns out Novoselic was visiting his local Congressman and good friend, Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.).

Novoselic, 39, has become increasingly political in the years since his close

friend and band mate Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. In 1995, he formed a political action committee to help get teenagers access to live music. Recently, he wrote a book called “Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix This Broken Democracy!” Last year, Novoselic gave thought to running for lieutenant governor.

Danny Goldberg, a record executive who used to manage Nirvana, told the New Yorker magazine back in October that Novoselic has a bright future. “He’ll be governor of the state of Washington one day,” Goldberg said. “He’s our Arnold.”

But Baird, while a big fan and admirer of Novoselic, isn’t willing to go there yet. With the state just having elected a Democratic governor in a hellishly drawn-out election, Baird said it “may be premature at this point to say he would go from not holding any current elective office to being governor.” That being said, Baird said the political rocker is a “very well read and thoughtful individual” who has done much work to involve “folks who are disconnected by the political process” into the fold.

Novoselic was in town last weekend for a board meeting at FairVote — The Center for Voting and Democracy.

Birthday Fundraiser. Nothing says happy birthday quite like a little green. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) sure agrees. The Senator turned 58 on Saturday and tonight he’s celebrating with a 58-style fundraiser at the Phoenix Park Hotel.

The invitation to donors, embroidered with fun party balloons, reads, “Please join us in celebrating Senator Tom Carper’s (DE) 58th Birthday.” The birthday party entry fees: $58, $580 or — for those who really want to make the Senator happy on his big day — bundled amounts of $5,800.

José, Can You See? Rep. José Serrano (D) saved a lot of money and time on focus groups and learned the easy way: He doesn’t have a lot of name recognition outside of his home state.

Monday night’s Double Jeopardy answer (the question, of course, is the answer in “Jeopardy”) stumped all three contestants. The category was “José Can You See.” The $1,200 answer: “Born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Congressman José Serrano represents a district in this eastern state.” None of the three contestants — none of whom was from New York — gave the proper question: What is New York?

Serrano is looking on the bright side. He was just glad that he was worthy of being subject material for one of this country’s biggest game shows ever. “A question on ‘Jeopardy’? Now I know I’ve really hit the big time,” Serrano said in a statement.

Then again, he added, “I would’ve felt better if one of the contestants had gotten the answer right!”

Ouch. No, Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.) did not get whooped in a bar brawl back home. He’s wearing that neck brace because he had back surgery on Jan. 14. His spokesman, Drew Nannis, said the Congressman had surgery at the University Hospital of Arkansas in Little Rock to “fix a few vertebrae that were out of place and causing discomfort.”

Whoopsy Daisy. A Democratic staffer on the House Education and the Workforce Committee was bombarded Tuesday with telephone calls from angry senior citizens, thanks to the AARP.

An absolute blizzard of calls from concerned senior citizens intended for freshman Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) were instead diverted to a single Democratic staffer — Amy Rosenbaum, an aide on the Education Committee. The callers were begging Rosenbaum to save their Social Security.

“It was all older folks, seniors calling in and saying, ‘Don’t take away my Social Security,’” Rosenbaum said. “And I agreed with them.” (And her liberal boss, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), certainly agreed, she said.) The all-day-long calls became annoying.

Most of the seniors had apparently seen an ad in The Denver Post, urging them to call their Congressman, Salazar. Others weren’t sure where they got the number. They only knew that the AARP had directed them to call.

To make matters worse, the AARP wasn’t sure how the snafu occurred. “I called both the regular and the Denver AARP to let them know. … It took them a while to figure it out.”

After quite a bit of back and forth with the AARP’s Washington and Denver offices, Rosenbaum decided to handle things herself. She changed her voice mail greeting and left her desk. The new voice mail greeting said, “If you’re calling for Congressman John Salazar to tell him your opinion on Social Security, please do not leave a message on this voice mail.” She then directed them to call Salazar’s new office.

Ed Burtenshaw, who handles grass-roots issues for the AARP, could not explain the error. “No, I was hoping you could explain it to me,” he said. Ultimately, he decided, “What this is is a computer glitch.”

Salazar’s new staff, while chuckling, felt bad about the inconvenience. “We definitely need to take Amy out for a beer,” Salazar spokeswoman Nayyera Haq said.

“Though in this case, Miller might be more appropriate than Coors,” she quipped, referring to Salazar’s brother’s 2004 Senate opponent, Pete Coors (R).

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