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Quitters Sometimes Win

It’s been more than two months since House Democrats cleaned up on Election Day, but scholars and campaign experts are still trying to figure out how the party was able to do so well.

Maybe it was the Iraq War. Maybe it was the genius of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.).

Or maybe it was the “quitter’s jacket.”[IMGCAP(1)]

According to a Democratic source who asked for anonymity so as to be able to discuss sensitive fashion-related issues, some staffers at the DCCC now jokingly attribute their November success to a coat, which is described — attractively — as a “very small pastel jacket” that hangs in the DCCC offices and is donned by Democratic staffers, male and female alike, whenever they are down in the dumps.

Apparently the jacket belonged to an unnamed DCCC aide who, as the source put it, “quit very suddenly” a couple of years ago but neglected to take her fashionable pastel garb with her on the way out the door.

Throughout the previous cycle, the source said, “even the biggest guys would come over when they had a bad day. People would put it on when they were having rough times. You would put on the quitter’s jacket and remember what you were fighting for” and resolve to never quit.

It’s an inspiring tale, and it may help explain why Democrats picked up so many seats. As the source put it: “Rahm shmahm.”

And here’s a warning to House Republicans: The jacket is still there this cycle, and it will stay as long as Democrats hold the House.

Car Trouble. Being a Member of Congress — or a Delegate — has its perks, one of which is that you get those cool license plates that let you park basically anywhere. But as Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D) discovered recently, those plates can sometimes get you in a little bit of trouble.

Last week, HOH got a tip that there was a commotion in the garage in the Cannon House Office Building. Apparently the garage staffers had noticed something amiss with Bordallo’s Jaguar. The Guam Delegate had taken her mini license plate — the one that lists a lawmaker’s House seniority and is supposed to be placed on a car’s dashboard — and actually screwed it on to the back of her car.

The incongruity of the large Jaguar with a tiny Member plate on it had apparently sent the garage attendants into a tizzy, and Bordallo was informed that she needed to fix it right away.

According to Bordallo’s office, the garage folks had earlier put a warning notice on her car because they did not see her Member’s plate visibly displayed. She misunderstood the warning and screwed the wrong plate onto the car, and it turns out the whole mix-up happened because the garage staff didn’t have the Jaguar in their database of Members’ cars.

Bordallo spokesman Joseph Duenas said there was a bright side to the whole saga.

“We tend to think that she was happy to put the plate back into its less prominent dashboard position where the number depicting her seniority — 439 out of 440 (Delegates never formally rise in seniority over the 435 Members from the States) — is perhaps less prominent as well,” Duenas said. “In the end, it’s not OK for parking security to not see the plate, but it is OK [for them] to not notice the seniority number on it.”

The Speaker’s Speaker. With Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D) office now for some reason getting a whole lot more calls from those pesky reporters, the Californian has snapped up an aide to one of her Senate leadership counterparts to help fend off the Fourth Estate.

Pelosi on Tuesday named Nadeam Elshami, a one-time House staffer and currently spokesman for Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), to serve as her new deputy communications director.

Elshami joins Pelosi’s three-person communications team led by Communications Director Brendan Daly. He replaces Jennifer Crider, who is heading to the DCCC to serve as communications director.

“Nadeam will bring the savvy and knowledge he has earned with his 15 years of experience working in both the House and the Senate,” Pelosi said. “As deputy communications director, he will be an integral part of House Democrats’ efforts to spread our message of a new direction for all Americans.”

Elshami, who takes on his new post in early February, will serve as a spokesman and adviser to the Speaker while also helping the party plan that whole message thing.

Elshami returns to the House after two years in Durbin’s leadership press office, beginning as the Illinois Senator’s deputy communications director and now as senior communications adviser. Before joining Durbin’s staff in 2005, Elshami worked as deputy chief of staff and communications director for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and, before that, in the press operation of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Erin P. Billings contributed to this report.

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