Hatchet-Burying Time

Posted January 18, 2008 at 6:21pm

There’s a chance for some awkward encounters around Hill hallways, now that Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) has pretty good odds of bumping into his former primary opponent, Lisa Quigley.

Quigley and Costa faced off in 2004 for the Democratic nod for the seat, in what was a nasty race: Quigley challenged Costa to take a drug test and ran ads pointing to a 1994 incident in which police investigating a break-in at the Congressman’s house found marijuana, which Costa denied was his. Police confirmed that his fingerprints were not on the box holding the drug, and charges were not filed. Quigley’s ad also hinted at Costa’s 1986 arrest in connection with soliciting a prostitute. “Jim Costa was arrested and convicted of a crime so inappropriate for daytime TV, we won’t say it,” the Quigley ad said, according to the Fresno Bee.

[IMGCAP(1)]Costa’s campaign labeled the attacks “sleazy” and “desperate.”

Now, Quigley is on the Hill, as the new chief of staff for Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), a position that puts her in close proximity to her one-time political rival.

Since Cooper’s and Costa’s offices are both located in the Longworth House Office Building, and both Members are part of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, it’s likely the one-time bitter opponents will run into each other sooner or later.

That’s just fine by Costa, his spokesman says. “The Congressman bears no ill will toward Lisa and welcomes her to the Blue Dog family,” he tells HOH. Quigley was chief of staff to then-Rep. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.), whose seat Costa now holds, so the two knew each other before the bitter race.

Quigley, too, is eager to make peace — and join forces. A Cooper spokesman says Quigley is glad to be back on the Hill and working with Costa. “Why run against each other when you could run with the Blue Dog pack?” he asks.

Extra-Crispy Controversy. Colonel Sanders might have a secret recipe for his Kentucky Fried Chicken, but he’s got nothing on Janie Galmon. The 70-something former chef for the Members’ Dining Room retired in December after more than four decades of service, but she claims she wouldn’t share the recipe for her beloved “Janie’s Fried Chicken” and now she wants the dish — a favorite among Members — taken off the menu.

HOH has learned that Restaurant Associates, the new vendor operating all the House cafeterias, is obliging her request, and the much-demanded dishes Janie made famous — her chicken and rice pudding — are no more. Beginning this week, the dining room will dish up its own recipe for the comfort-food goods. And they’re dropping Galmon’s name now that the controversy has gotten hotter than a deep fryer. “I think we’ll just call it fried chicken,” says Jeff Ventura, spokesman for the House Chief Administrative Officer, who oversees the cafeterias.

A source tells HOH that Galmon, in the fashion of many a lady who would sooner reveal her true age than her prized recipes, didn’t write down her chicken recipe for Restaurant Associates before she retired. The dining room apparently improvised a recipe — but it didn’t get nearly the rave reviews that the original, top-secret formula did. “It just wasn’t as good,” one disappointed diner tells HOH.

Galmon visited the kitchen last week to show the new management how it was done, the source tells HOH, but she still didn’t write down the recipe. And that’s when Galmon noticed that her name was still on the menu, even though it wasn’t her dish — or her handiwork, the source says.

“She said she didn’t want her name on it, since she wasn’t the one in the kitchen anymore making it,” the poultry-loving source tells HOH.

The alleged bait-and-switch — in which chicken billed as Janie’s but not made from her recipe or by her hands — was first reported, oddly, by none other than super-gossip Web site TMZ.com, which is better known for its nonstop Britney Spears footage than its coverage of Congressional dining options. The mention on TMZ launched Galmon to fame, and she appeared live on Fox News for an interview last Friday.

Ventura has a slightly different take on the controversy, which we’re dubbing “Chicken-Gate.” He tells HOH that Galmon never explicitly said Restaurant Associates couldn’t make the chicken or use her name on the dish once she was gone, but she did insist that the rice pudding named after her not keep her namesake. Galmon’s pudding, incidentally, once caused a rift in House-Senate relations in 1999, when then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) became so smitten with it that he tried to get the House to cough up the recipe to be used in Senate cafeterias. Galmon, according to former Roll Call reporter (and HOH alum) Ed Henry, refused.

In any event, Ventura adds that now the House cafeteria folks have decided to offer their own fried chicken since Galmon didn’t explicitly sanction using her name.

How’s that for smoothing ruffled feathers?

Minute (or Less) Man. If Andy Warhol is right and everyone is famous for 15 minutes, Sen. Benjamin Cardin still has 14 minutes, 32 seconds left on his fame-o-meter. The Maryland Democrat on Friday sent out a press release touting the 28 seconds he spent presiding over the Senate during the holiday pro forma sessions that foiled President Bush from making any recess appointments.

Cardin, who is among the chamber’s more junior Members and who lives relatively locally, seemed particularly proud of the less than a minute he spent in the chair on Friday. “While I am always honored to preside over the U.S. Senate, I regret that these pro forma sessions became necessary to block President Bush from making controversial recess appointments,” Cardin said in the press release.

Some of Cardin’s colleagues also shared the burden of keeping the chamber in session while fellow Senators spent time at home. Democratic Sens. Jim Webb (Va.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Edward Kennedy (Mass.) and Mary Landrieu (La.) all took turns gaveling the pro forma sessions since “recess” began Dec. 21.

Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.