Polling for the Enemy

Posted April 9, 2008 at 6:56pm

Geoff Garin, the newly installed head pollster for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) presidential campaign, might not have the Colombia-sized problem that his predecessor, Mark Penn, did. Penn, of course, took a less visible role in the Clinton campaign after coming under fire for enjoying a lucrative contract with Colombia to push its free-trade agreement while also advising Clinton, who is opposed to the pact.

[IMGCAP(1)]Although Garin is being touted as the anti-Penn, the men have more in common than one might think: It turns out that many of Garin’s clients don’t support the New York Senator’s presidential politics either.

At least that’s the case with Garin’s longtime Democratic Senate clients. In a completely unscientific HOH poll, based on Garin’s biography page at Hart Research Associates, most of the Senators whom Garin has worked for actually support Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Clinton’s opponent.

Of the 10 Senators listed in Garin’s bio, six — Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.); Russ Feingold (Wis.), okay, it was unofficial, but he gave a fairly strong nod for Obama in a Wisconsin paper; Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.); Patrick Leahy (Vt.); Kent Conrad (N.D.); and Byron Dorgan (N.D.) — all are in Obama’s camp. Only two of Garin’s clients, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.), are backing Clinton.

The junior Senator from New York may be looking to the pollster to pull some sway with his undecided clients, Sens. Robert Byrd (W.Va.) and Max Baucus (Mont.). But Garin tells HOH he always has believed in letting his clients do what they think is right rather than what the polls might tell them to do.

“On this one, Democrats across he country are closely divided about what the right choices are, so it’s not surprising different [Senate] Democrats would be, too,” Garin says.

Stuff, Part II. HOH can hardly keep track of who likes what stuff. Thank goodness there’s another new blog, Stuff Black Hill People Like, to set us straight. The blog is similar to the new blog that HOH reported on Wednesday, Stuff Hill People Like, which itself is a takeoff of the popular humor blog Stuff White People Like. Oh, and Stuff Black Hill People Like also takes cues from yet another blog, Stuff Educated Black People Like. Got that?

The author of Stuff Black Hill People Like is a black Congressional staffer who wants to remain anonymous. The author tells HOH that the blog is supposed to be lighthearted and will focus on the shared experiences of black Hill staffers.

Turns out, the stuff that black Hill people like isn’t all that different from stuff most Hill people like: The first entries include listservs (although the one referenced in the blog refers to one for young, black Hill types) and using Google’s chat feature on one’s Blackberry.

Conyers Dressed for Vegas, Baby. Apparently, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. That was the case, anyway, when House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) made his way back to Washington, D.C., from Sin City on Monday night. Conyers, whose predilection for natty attire has caught HOH’s eye before, was seen sporting a bright-red Coca-Cola T-shirt and silver suspenders aboard a Southwest flight from Vegas to Dulles, according to an HOH tipster.

Though he’s called gambling a “social evil,” Conyers, who was surrounded by handlers, looked like he was recovering from a “very hearty party,” the tipster says. So far, it looks like Conyers is keeping mum about his happenings in Vegas. His spokeswoman didn’t respond to HOH’s inquiries.

Thanks for the Memories. Tuesday was a sad day for HOH. Although we are, of course, objective journalists, we nevertheless are mourning the defeat of former Rep. Shelley Sekula Gibbs (R-Texas) who lost her primary challenge from Pete Olson to fight for the seat now held by Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas).

Not, of course, for any political reason, but for the simple fact that Sekula Gibbs, during her all-too-brief brief stint in Congress — she memorably replaced former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) after he resigned — was a veritable fount of HOH-able material, and we had so hoped she would return to the House to provide us with all sorts of column fodder.

Who can forget when her staff — actually leftover DeLay aides — walked out on her, refusing to work for such a difficult boss? And we still cherish the memories of Sekula Gibbs’ apparent misunderstanding of her stature in the chamber (her tenure actually only lasted several weeks), leading her to plan a full agenda.

Others, too, took a moment to reflect on her loss.

“Add the voters of TX-22 to the long list of people who have walked out on her,” one Democratic operative laughed. “She won’t be alone for long — Pete Olson will be lending her company soon enough.”

So, Rep. Sekula Gibbs, as HOH ponders wistfully what might have been, we give you the first “Katherine Harris Award.”

D.C. Rights Gets Glam. Hayden Panettiere is most famous for her role as a cheerleader with supernatural powers on the NBC series “Heroes.” And the tabloid darling is second-most famous for her advocacy on behalf of whales.

Now the starlet has a new and highly unlikely cause: voting rights for D.C. citizens.

Panettiere stars in a new public-service announcement supporting an initiative to help D.C. win statehood. Snagging a celeb like Panettiere was a bit of a fluke: D.C. Shadow Sen. Paul Strauss (D) said he met the actress at an event for the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) earlier this year.

Strauss said he volunteered to help her with her advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill for whales, and arranged to have lunch with her in January in the Senate dining room.

“She was at the Senate lobbying on her pet issue, which is Save the Whales,” he tells HOH. “I was all set to commit my vote to the bill she wanted me to vote on — but wait — I can’t commit my vote, I don’t get one.”

He said he explained D.C.’s lack of voting rights to the actress, who was appalled and agreed to cut the PSA.

He says the ad will air on some local stations. Apparently, they’ve run into opposition from the folks at the local ABC and FOX stations, since Panettiere’s show is on NBC.

Briefly Quoted. “Was Barbara Boxer here?”

— Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as she approached the podium at the House Radio-TV Gallery during a press conference on Wednesday and came across a stool. Some diminutive Members of Congress, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), use boosters to reach the microphones.

Jen Bendery and Jennifer Yachnin contributed to this report.

Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.