Heard on the Hill: Luck Be a Lady Tonight

Posted November 3, 2008 at 6:55pm

By Election Day, the die is pretty much cast: The fundraising and debating are done, the ads already aired and most voters’ minds made up. Still, there’s that little element of chance at play.

[IMGCAP(1)]And no one, no matter how confident, wants to mess with Lady Luck — including Democrats, who are still hedging their karmic bets even though most polling tells them things are going their way.

HOH hears that staffers in the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have taken to knocking on wood any time anyone talks about a victory by Sen. Barack Obama, for fear of jinxing the Illinois Democrat. Staffers will frantically search for “a table, chair, anything” made of dead trees to knock on if someone speaks too confidently about a Democratic win, a source tells us.

And the House folks aren’t alone in their superstitions. HOH hears that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) made sure to reserve the very same rooms tonight in the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill where they stayed after Democrats won control of both chambers in 2006 — just for luck.

Lucky clothes are a common, er, thread, such as the T-shirt featuring ’80s band the Go-Go’s that Anne Caprara will be wearing today. Caprara is the campaign manager for Betsy Markey, the Democrat running a strong challenge to Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (Colo.). Caprara told HOH that she bought it a few years ago during a primary race in Ohio, when she was so strapped for time that she went shopping at a local Target rather than do laundry. “I literally grabbed the first six things I found and it was one of them,” she said. “Since then, every time I’ve worn it, we’ve won.”

And a communications director for a Democrat challenging an incumbent said he’s been wearing the same blue fleece vest every day for about the past two weeks and is afraid to go without it. The director, who didn’t want to be named, started wearing the vest after his candidate did well in a debate, HOH hears.

Hopefully for his fellow campaign workers, he’s taken it off long enough to wash it.

And HOH’s very favorite Election Day ritual comes from another Democratic campaign manager who also didn’t want to be named: He said he puts the movie “Patton” starring George C. Scott on a constant loop on his office TV and carries around a riding crop, a la the famous general. And in the years he’s been following that routine, it’s “usually” worked, he told HOH.

“Patton was a great general, and he really got into the minds of the opponent,” he said. So today will find him listening to Scott’s roar as he makes calls to undecided voters.

Our suggestion: Put it on mute.

More Seats, Fewer Beers? Democrats might be planning on throwing a few back during tonight’s election-watch party at the Hyatt Regency, sponsored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, but they better bring their wallets.

HOH hears that this year, unlike the bash in 2006, where open bars fueled a lively night of revelry, partygoers will get two tickets to exchange for free drinks at the bars. After that, your E-night suds will cost you.

HOH also hears that a DJ will be spinning for the crowds, while Florida Democratic Reps. Kendrick Meek and Debbie Wasserman Schultz will again be taking on emcee duties as they did in 2006, updating the crowd on election results throughout the night.

Postcard From Washington. The election battle between Washington Rep. Dave Reichert (R) and Democratic opponent Darcy Burner has been one of the tightest in the country. But in its final days, all attention has turned to an itty, bitty piece of mail sent to Burner’s 5-year-old son.

Reichert’s office sent young Henry Burner an official, franked piece of mail on Oct. 22 outlining the Congressman’s work on the Endangered Species Act. The postcard-sized mailing just recently reached the Burners, since it was sent to their home that burned down in July.

But the mail’s Oct. 22 date is more than two months after a pre-election prohibition on unsolicited mass mail went into effect.

“I think what’s going on is that Congressman Reichert is abusing the franked mail privileges, and they’re pulling lists of people from God knows where,” Burner spokesman Sandeep Kaushik told HOH. “Maybe Henry has a magazine subscription or two that lead to this happening, but this is obviously being done with taxpayer money, on the eve of the election.”

But Reichert Chief of Staff Mike Shields told HOH that the mailing was perfectly legal. Congressional offices are allowed to send franked mail out to constituents before the election, so long as mailings do not exceed 500 copies.

More importantly, it is not unsolicited, Shields said, but rather a response to two separate letters Henry Burner had sent to Reichert’s Congressional office about environmental issues — one dating back to 2005, when Henry would have been just 2.

“We update on those types of issues, and he very likely got an update on an environmental issue,” Shields said. “We treat every constituent the same, so if the name pops up on the list, we are going to mail them an update regardless.”

But Kaushik denies the claim that Henry ever wrote to Reichert.

“Henry Burner has not contacted their office, to the best of our knowledge,” Kaushik said. “He’s a 5-year-old kid.”

Dear Senator: The Truth Is Out There. They’ve hosted conventions, launched Web sites and made plenty of documentaries, but believers in extraterrestrials haven’t had much success persuading the government to acknowledge that aliens exist.

But with Americans about to pick a new commander in chief, E.T. enthusiasts think the time is ripe for the government to acknowledge that earthlings have indeed made contact with beings from outer space. And to drive home the effort, supporters are undertaking a massive lobbying effort that’s rather low-tech: They’re writing their Senators!

Or, more specifically, they’re striving to send presidential contenders Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) a million letters, faxes and e-mails asking that the new president make public the government’s alien archives.

“This is the perfect time,” said Stephen Bassett, executive director of the Paradigm Research Group, which lobbies the government to release data on extraterrestrial events. “A transcendent election, the need for change being talked about everywhere … the call for transparency in government, open government. This is the time.”

Bassett has lobbied Congress to release alien information for years, and his pleas have fallen mostly on deaf ears. But he tells HOH that he expects “The Million Fax on Washington” to work.

Plenty of high-profile folks, such as New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), have said recently that the government hasn’t been entirely forthcoming about contact from outer space. Most telling, Bassett argues, is that Democratic bigwig John Podesta — who called on the government to make any evidence of UFOs public a few years back — will oversee Obama’s potential presidential transition.

With that in mind, Bassett wagered that there is an 80 percent to 90 percent chance that by spring 2009, the new president will acknowledge that the government has made contact with beings from outer space. And there’s nothing to fear, he said — all that newly public knowledge of alien technology can be used to deal with the planet’s pressing concerns, such as global warming.

“We need to know the truth,” he said. “And then we can start to deal with it.”

It’s a Boy … and an Election. Jason Gross has a reason to smile. And it’s not because his boss, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), is perched to handily win his re-election today. Or even because his favorite presidential candidate — duh, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) — is leading the polls. Gross, Courtney’s chief of staff, is grinning over the birth of little Samuel Morgan Pendleton Gross, born Oct. 29 to Gross and wife Connie Pendleton, a partner specializing in First Amendment law at the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine.

“Sam arrived just in time to witness change in the White House,” the proud dad crowed to HOH on Monday, just before hopping a plane to Connecticut for the final day of the campaign.

Mom and baby are happy and at home resting, Gross reported.

HOH wishes the couple luck when baby Sam starts exercising his own First Amendment rights — at 3 a.m., no doubt.

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