Pelosi Cuts the Rug

Posted February 4, 2003 at 6:33pm

The highlight of the House Democratic retreat in Pennsylvania, according to attendees, was Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) dancing with two longtime rivals, Reps. John Dingell (Mich.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.).

The legendary Dingell was furious last year when Pelosi pumped money into the campaign of his opponent, then-Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Mich.), in a nasty primary battle. Knowing that the victorious 24-term veteran could make life miserable for her, Pelosi has been trying to mend fences with Dingell ever since.

Appropriately enough, Pelosi dragged the Michigan lawmaker onto the

dance floor when the band started playing a Motown tune. The 76-year-old Dingell was said to be one of the last people still standing when the festivities ended late in the evening.

“She’s really taking this united front to heart,” Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly told HOH. “The party that dances together, stays together.”

The goodwill also extended to Caucus Chairman Menendez, who was none too pleased about the fact that Pelosi backed Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) for the leadership post last year.

“It was great to have a dance with the leader, especially when she allowed me to lead,” cracked Menendez. “She’s as good a dancer as she is a leader.”

Burying the hatchet at retreats has become a staple of Pelosi’s leadership. At a previous retreat, she danced cheek to cheek with Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.) shortly after beating him in a tough contest for Minority Whip. When Pelosi was elevated to leader, Hoyer was unanimously elected Whip.

Dynamic Duo. Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Howard Wolfson has signed on as a principal in the Glover Park Group, while his wife, Terri McCullough, has taken a position in Pelosi’s office.

Wolfson, who headed the DCCC in the 2002 cycle, will open a New York City office for the D.C.-based communications firm that features Democratic luminaries such as Joe Lockhart. Wolfson will split his time between the Big Apple and the nation’s capital.

“I’m thrilled to be working with such an incredibly talented group of people. I feel like I have been picked in the draft by the [Tampa Bay] Buccaneers,” Wolfson said of his new post.

This means that Wolfson has finally gotten his better half to move to D.C. “I tried to get Terri down here for two years — it took Mrs. Pelosi two minutes to get it done,” he quipped.

A media consulting firm that dabbles in politics, the Glover Park Group was founded in June 2001 by Lockhart and former advisers to ex-Vice President Al Gore including Carter Eskew and Michael Feldman.

Wolfson served as press secretary to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y) during her successful 2000 campaign for the Empire State open seat. Previously, he handled press for Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) 1998 open-seat victory and served as chief of staff to Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) from 1993 to 1998.

McCullough, a former spokeswoman for Pelosi, is returning as the leader’s director of outreach. She most recently served as assistant director at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, a nonprofit arts organization founded by playwright Anna Deavere Smith.

Washington’s newest power couple were married last June. Wolfson, a big-time music aficionado, recruited a band fresh from the nuptials of former Beatle Paul McCartney and Heather Mills to play at the couple’s reception.

Morella vs. Mikulski? Is former Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) planning a run for the Senate next year?

That’s what the former Maryland Congresswoman told 1,200 of her closest friends at a suburban Washington, D.C., country club last week during a tribute to her 24-year political career.

But before her loyal campaign lieutenants — or Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) — could keel over from the shock, Morella was quick to add: “Only kidding.”

Still, Morella’s future plans were much on the minds of everyone in the crowd. The former eight-term Member, whose political career was ended last year by now-Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D), let everyone know that though she’s about to turn 72, she still plans to be active and involved. Being out of public office, however, takes some getting used to.

“You know you’re not in office when you get in the back seat of your car and it doesn’t move,” she said, using a line she credited to former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.).

Morella, in fact, plans to follow a trail blazed by Simpson and will lecture this spring at the Kennedy School of Government. But she turned down a request to commit to a fall semester there and said she doesn’t know what’s next.

The evening featured tributes from fellow moderate House Republican Reps. Wayne Gilchrest (Md.) and Amo Houghton (N.Y.), Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R), and celebrity journalists (and longtime Morella neighbors) Cokie and Steve Roberts. Several speakers cursed the Democratic-driven redistricting process that probably cost Morella her seat.

Morella was by turns wistful and philosophical about her fate, saying she wished Ehrlich had been governor when the lines were being drawn. Then, referring to the Maryland Democrats who drew the lines, she quoted William Shakespeare, as she so frequently does: “Oh ‘tis wondrous to have the strength of a giant but it is tyrannous to use it as a giant.”

Feeling Fantastic. GOP Members plan to turn out in full force at a fundraiser tonight for Capitol Police Officer Bill Cleveland, who’s the Republican candidate for mayor of Alexandria, Va.

Cleveland, who mans the door at the C Street Southeast side of the Cannon House Office Building, is known as one of the friendliest officers on the Hill with a streak of optimism that’s contagious. When staffers arrive early for work and ask Cleveland how he’s doing, he’s known for shouting out, “Fantastic!”

House Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis along with fellow Virginia Reps. Virgil Goode and Ed Schrock are among the GOP lawmakers who are turning out for the event, along with ex-Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.) and former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.).

The event is being organized by senior GOP aides and strategists including Sean Spicer and Ed Brookover. With that kind of fundraising firepower, this is bound to be the biggest haul that a candidate for mayor in nearby Alexandria has ever gotten at one event.

The 54-year-old Cleveland is currently a member of the City Council and serves as vice mayor, which is supposed to be a part-time gig. “I spend 42 hours a week in my full-time job and 82 hours a week on my part-time job,” Cleveland told Roll Call last year.

If Cleveland wins the May battle, he will become the city’s first Republican mayor and has talked about finally devoting his full attention to politics. Whether he wins or loses, history will be made in Alexandria. Both Cleveland and Democratic candidate William Euille are black, so the city will get its first black leader either way.

Chris Cillizza and Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.