Sept. 20, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER
Roll Call

Harris for Senate Alert

If signatures of support are what she’s after, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) has found the right guy to help her. Her new — fourth to be exact — campaign manager for her Senate bid, Bryan Rudnick, was involved in a petition controversy in Massachusetts in 2001.

Then, Rudnick was chairman of Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage, which championed the Defense of Marriage act. His group was accused of tricking voters into signing its petitions for a proposed ban on gay marriage by asking voters to first sign a petition to protect horses from being killed and sold as food, then asking them to sign a second time, on a petition to ban gay marriage.

Media outlets such as the Boston Globe reported that Save Our Horses claimed the other group used their feel-good petition to dupe voters into signing the gay-marriage ban. Voters were quoted extensively in news stories saying they didn’t recall signing a gay-marriage ban petition and they remembered only the horse-meat petition. The horse petition failed, but the other more controversial gay-marriage measure succeeded.

When the controversy arose, Rudnick denied the fraud charges, telling reporters there was no “bait-and-switch tactic.”

Rudnick did not take inquires from HOH seeking to clarify his role in the petition controversy. The Harris campaign, which has been roiled this week by the revelation that the Congresswoman hid a grand jury subpoena from her staff, would not answer questions, either.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Marks said, “Our campaign is entirely focused on defeating [Sen.] Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).”

A Fry by Any Other Name ... We’ve confirmed it: House Administration Chairman Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.) has taken the freedom out of fries.

The world nearly exploded Wednesday with the shocking revelation in The Washington Times that Ehlers — whose committee oversees fries (and all Capitol Hill eateries that sell them) — quietly had put all things French back on menus. Apparently, Ehlers disagreed with the decision by his predecessor, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who declared three years ago that “french” would be replaced by “freedom” in a public rebuke of France for opposing the United States’ decision to invade Iraq.

At the time of his decision, Ney was inspired by Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-N.C.), who had a restauranteur constituent who decided to replace french fries with freedom fries on his menu at Cubbies, a burger joint in Beaufort, N.C., that is frequented by U.S. soldiers. Jones sent a letter to then-Chairman Ney, a copy of which he sent to the owner, suggesting the House go along with Cubbies’ policy.

Since then, Jones has done a 180 on the Iraq war and decided the invasion was one colossal mistake for the U.S.

Asked what he thought of Ehlers’ decision to remove freedom fries from the menus in House restaurants and carry-outs, Jones’ chief of staff, Glen Downs, told HOH: “At this point, it’s immaterial. We’re in a serious situation over there in Iraq. Bashing the French or not bashing the French is irrelevant. It’s not even worth talking about it.”

Downs said Jones has said he “regretted” ever hoisting the freedom fry banner.

Ehlers’ spokesman, Jon Brandt, was a man of few — in fact, no — words on the super-secret, dark-of-night decision by his boss.

On Wednesday, a Roll Call intern called the Rayburn Cafeteria, which was the only House eatery besides the House basement restaurant that sold “freedom fries,” and asked if they sold boardwalk fries, french fries or freedom fries. The woman who answered the phone answered, “Just fries.”

Kennedy v. Kerry. One of the more famous inter-delegation rivalries played itself out in withering, triple-digit temperatures on the National Mall Tuesday evening as Sen. John Kerry’s Chowdah trounced the Ted Sox of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s office 24-18.

This year’s annual softball game between the Massachusetts Democratic Senators’ offices was marred by code red, “it’s-not-the-heat-it’s-the-humidity” weather and the absence of Chowdah’s fearless windsurfing, snowboarding, golfing, bicycling and other expensive sporting pursuits leader. Somehow, though, even without the Bay State’s junior Senator, they managed to pull it off.

Braving the blazing heat, the Ted Sox took to the field hoping to reverse the curse of the past four seasons. The team’s strategy was to capitalize on the perceived weakness of the Chowdah’s dinky-looking middle infield. Boy, was that a mistake.

Chowdah head coach Ted Chiodo had a strategy that more than compensated for the Ted Sox’s fielding errors: rely on the interns. Between the speed of leadoff man intern Ben White and the slugging power of Kerry interns Ben Glerum, Charlie Ticotsky and Dan Monico, the team ended up batting through its lineup in the bottom of the first inning.

Even though the interns did all the work, Kerry staffer Marvin Nicholson got all the glory. The 6-foot-6-inch hottie and one-time “ABC Person of the Week” was named MVP at the team’s post-game celebration at the Hawk ’n’ Dove.

Kerry spokesman David Wade had this to say about the team’s victory: “I think it’s safe to say this was the biggest mismatch since President Bush took the SAT. There are two things I look forward to every year when Chowdah plays the Ted Sox. First, when the two of us play each other, for once a Massachusetts Democrat is guaranteed to win the big one. Second, the fans watching us play know there are at least two teams in sports today that aren’t using performance enhancing drugs.”

Kennedy spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner wasn’t convinced that the opponent played straight and fair. “We’re considering testing the team for unsanctioned use of Legal Sea Foods,” she quipped. But, she sighed, “Even the mighty Ted Sox have to bow down before the power of good New England Chowdah every now and then.”

Stephanie Woodrow contributed to this report.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.

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