Heard on the Hill: Casual Tuesday?

Posted July 28, 2010 at 6:46pm

Rep. John Sullivan turned a few heads when he wandered onto the House floor late Tuesday afternoon dressed decidedly down in a golf shirt, visor and gym shorts — and it wasn’t even Friday!

Turns out the Oklahoma Republican had planned to spend the day in Tulsa, voting for himself in his primary race and attending a watch party with friends and family. But when Sullivan got word that the $58.8 billion emergency war funding bill would be voted on, he quickly hopped a plane to D.C. and went straight from the airport to the House floor, visor and all.

Sullivan was in such a rush to get back that he didn’t even get a chance to vote in his primary (and he didn’t need to — he won easily).

“Sometimes you have to put politics aside, especially when it comes to our troops,” Sullivan tells HOH. “The most important vote yesterday was the one supporting them.”

Tech-Savvy Senators

Count Sen. Mark Warner among the cool kids — the Virginia Democrat now owns an iPad.

Spokesman Kevin Hall tells HOH that while Warner remains addicted to his BlackBerry, the Senator’s new iPad is proving helpful for his staff because they can send work-related documents to him directly rather than having to rely on ancient equipment such as a fax machine.

Plus, Warner is finding his flashy new gadget to be a lot of fun.

“He seems to really like it,” Hall adds. “He’s already browsing apps and stuff like that. He’s like a Senator at Christmas.”

Warner isn’t the only Senator upping his technology abilities. On Tuesday evening, Sen. Claire McCaskill informed her 38,000 or so Twitter followers that she also recently nabbed a new tech toy.

“I’m loving my new gadget (no,no,no.. the govt didn’t pay for it) a mobile wifi hotspot from Sprint. 4G fast,” the Missouri Democrat tweeted. “Now I can work anywhere.”

Going Out With a Bang

Former staffer Don Ernsberger could give lessons on how to sign off with flair. When Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s deputy chief of staff retired after the 2008 elections, he changed his outgoing voice mail to inform callers that he was no longer with the California Republican’s office — in a rather amusing way.

A year and a half later, the message is still playing.

“This is Don Ernsberger,” it begins. “I am no longer working for the Rohrabacher office. I am fighting for freedom and having fun elsewhere.”

HOH checked in with Rohrabacher’s office to get the skinny on the funny message. Turns out “fighting for freedom and having fun” is the office motto, as evidenced by a plaque in the Congressman’s personal office.

“Every time Dana leaves to go back to California, he says, ‘Don’t let the enemies of freedom take over the Capitol while I’m gone,'” spokeswoman Tara Setmayer tells HOH.

These days, Ernsberger is fighting for freedom from the comfort of his home in Pennsylvania, where he is enjoying retirement.

A Capitol Cuteness Alert

Rep. Roy Blunt’s youngest advisers might not be able to weigh in on wonky budget matters, but HOH guesses they have a lot to say about the ongoing peanut butter vs. jelly debate.

An HOH spy eyed the Missouri Republican on the House floor Tuesday afternoon trailed by two of his loyal aides: Ben Blunt, 6, and Charlie Blunt, 5.

Ben is the Congressman’s grandson, while Charlie is his youngest son, Blunt spokeswoman Burson Snyder tells HOH. The dynamic duo are on Capitol Hill this week to attend the Capitol Camp program, Snyder adds.

Our spy notes the youngsters were well-equipped for their Congressional visit, “wearing backpacks as big as them.”

Sen. Hagan’s Summer Barbecue

Sen. Kay Hagan likely made plenty of friends Wednesday when the North Carolina Democrat helped serve barbecue dishes at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee office from one of her home state’s most beloved restaurants.

HOH hears Hagan — wanting to show off the Tar Heel State’s barbecue prowess — arranged for chefs from Wilber’s Barbecue to dish out their famed food to Members of Congress and Capitol Hill staffers.

The Goldsboro restaurant, perhaps most famous for its pit-cooked barbecue pork plate, has served a slew of famous folks over the years, from Hagan’s fellow Members of Congress to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.

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