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Taking Dodd’s hideaway was a rare move, considering Levin actually entered the Senate two years before Dodd. But he may have been enthralled by the history; the room was the site of Samuel Morse’s first demonstration of the telegraph. He may also have been keen on what a former Dodd staffer described as “one heck of a view.”
Located in a private hallway near the Old Senate Chamber, the space is not as large as Kennedy’s, but it has its perks.
“It has a fireplace in it, and it has a great view right down the West Front of the Capitol,” the former Dodd staffer said. “It was a great room. That’s one of those things that you acquire after a long and respectable career.”
Leahy, meanwhile, said he was in no hurry to move.
“Why would I want to give up mine?” he asked. “I’ve got the most beautiful view probably in the whole Capitol.”
An avid photographer, the second-most-senior Senator, brandishing a professional-grade digital camera, scrolled to a freshly snapped photo to prove his case.
“Recognize that guy?” he asked Wednesday, pointing to a man clad in familiar orange-tinted sunglasses, his arm casually resting on a balcony ledge looking out on a spectacular view of the Washington Monument. “It’s Bono.”
The seven-term Senator is the proud inhabitant of a first-floor hideaway, formerly the stomping grounds of the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). With a fireplace, built-in bookshelves, a private bathroom and a balcony, it is a rare gem among the Capitol’s hidden offices, and certainly enough to impress even a rock star.
Leahy’s neighbor, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the most senior Senator, also decided not to move this year, said his spokesman Peter Boylan — although he did take over the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) sprawling suite, which occupies the entire northwest corner of the Brumidi Corridor and includes some of the painter’s famous frescoes. The space used to be Byrd’s hideaway before he asked the Rules and Administration Committee to repurpose the President Pro Tem office in 2009 so he could snatch the room next door as well.
That room, a modest space with a fireplace, tall arched and frescoed ceilings and large windows overlooking Lower Senate Park, remained empty as of Friday.
The two Senators’ spots are adjacent to the Speaker’s office and like Leahy, Inouye’s hideaway, once the office of the Librarian of Congress, has a working fireplace and large windows.
When third-most-senior Sen. Dick Lugar’s name came up, he declined the chance to move, too.
“I’m staying in the same room I had,” the Indiana Republican told Roll Call last week.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), No. 6 on the seniority list, opted to stay in the office he wrangled in 2005, a second-floor room with a beautiful view of the West Front and the Mall that used to belong to then-Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.).
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), eighth in seniority, said he looked at two hideaways but decided to stay put.
That opened up the way for Bingaman and Kerry to move into new hideaways, their staffs confirmed, although Bingaman has already said he will not run for re-election in 2012. McConnell, No. 12 on the list, moved as well.