Footloose and Berry-free

Posted March 2, 2007 at 6:34pm

As chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) is the GOP’s anointed message man, the go-to guy for all things communications. [IMGCAP(1)]

And on Capitol Hill, where news cycles are measured in minutes and schedules can shift at the drop of a gavel, that’s no small task.

But unlike many of his colleagues who nurse serious BlackBerry addictions, nearly constantly tapping away, e-mailing staff and checking the latest headlines, Kyl doesn’t use one of the oh-so-helpful devices.

No big deal, you say? Puh-leeze. EVERYbody in the Capitol is mad for their BlackBerry. For gosh sakes, even Sen. Ted “the Internet Is a Series of Tubes” Stevens (R-Alaska), one of the august body’s eldest (and that’s saying something) statesmen, carries two of the gizmos.

Kyl’s BlackBerry aversion has generated some amusement among addicted GOP aides and fellow Senators, although the Arizonan’s Luddite tendency thankfully does not extend to other modern conveniences, like cell phones and electricity.

A Kyl aide confirms that his boss is blissfully BlackBerry-free. But he insists that the Republican Conference chairman does just fine without one, thank you very much, since he practically moves at the speed of e-mail anyway.

“Sen. Kyl is such a speedy worker that he would probably arrive at the destination before the e-mail arrived,” the aide said.

And anyone who’s ever tried to chase the fast-paced Senator down through the halls of the Senate, HOH included, wouldn’t argue with that.

Floor Funnies. So a guy walks into a bar … stop HOH if you’ve heard this one. No, really, here’s the joke of last week, from when the House was voting on legislation making it easier for workers to unionize.

So Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) approaches Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on the floor, according to an HOH operative who overheard Gohmert recounting the exchange. Gohmert asks Hoyer what the chances are that he will vote against the Democratic “card-check” bill, which would end the use of secret union ballots. When Hoyer says the chances are slim, Gohmert tells Hoyer that he should. Hoyer would know better than anyone, Gohmert joshes, because if House leadership elections had operated on the card-check system, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who lost to Hoyer in leadership elections, would be the Majority Leader.

Ba-dum-bum.

Who’s Your Donor? At first blush, it sounds funny that a bunch of buttoned-up GOP lawmakers are planning to hold fundraisers at a raucous rock concert by a band known for heavy drug use, countercultural leanings and eardrum-popping sound.

But the more we thought about Members holding fundraisers at The Who’s March 8 concert at the Verizon Center, the more it made sense. After all, the band is tottering into old age, only two of the band’s original members are still around, and they’ve lost a little of their edge since their “The Kids Are Alright” glory days.

In fact, we bet the Republicans holding Who events, including Reps. Kay Granger (Texas), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Greg Walden (Ore.) and Mary Bono (Calif.), will find their tunes perfect background music for schmoozing with donors while sipping merlot in the Verizon Center boxes.

Long live rock — and fundraising.

COS Baby Boom. Now that they’re in power, Democrats’ ranks appear to be growing. And while the newest additions may be small, they’re definitely a vocal group.

Jeff Carroll, chief of staff to Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), welcomed Elizabeth Grace Carroll to the world last Tuesday. Baby and mom (that would be Shannon Carroll, who works for the American Council of Life Insurers) are doing great, the proud Democratic daddy reports.

And Tuesday also marked the debut of Hannah Zoe Meehan, daughter of Michael Meehan, chief of staff for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Tovah Ravitz Meehan, a longtime deputy chief of staff to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Most recently, Tovah has been consulting for Murray, Emily’s List and the American Cancer Society.

If there’s anything stronger than politics in little Hannah’s DNA, it’s a love of the Boston Red Sox. Michael tells HOH that Hannah’s big sister, Meghan, is “thrilled to have another Red Sox fan in the family,” and he couldn’t resist pointing out that the day of Hannah’s birth, 27, is the number of legendary former Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.

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