The Return of the Original Gangster: Nancy Pelosi

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Elahe Izad and Shane Goldmacher
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Elahe Izad Shane Goldmacher
Jan. 23, 2014, 4 p.m.

Ori­gin­al Gang­ster

Nancy Pelosi has ex­hib­ited re­mark­able stay­ing power — and not just by re­main­ing in of­fice after los­ing the speak­er­ship. More than three years after giv­ing up the gavel, the lib­er­al San Fran­cisco Demo­crat re­mains a fa­vor­ite foil in Re­pub­lic­ans’ cam­paign com­mer­cials. Just this week she made cameos in two GOP ads, and it’s still only Janu­ary. In a heated spe­cial elec­tion in Flor­ida, the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee is air­ing an ad that fea­tures a photo of Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee Alex Sink sand­wiched between pic­tures of Pres­id­ent Obama and Pelosi. “An­oth­er tax and spend­er,” reads the text on the screen.

In this case, the minor­ity lead­er’s pres­ence makes some sense. Sink, after all, is run­ning for the House and, if she wins, she would join Pelosi’s Demo­crat­ic Caucus. But there was Pelosi again in an ad for Ben Sas­se, a tea-party Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate can­did­ate in Neb­raska. His ad opens with a grainy, black-and-white video of her speak­ing about Obama­care. GOP op­er­at­ives say the health care law will be the om­ni­present fo­cus in the GOP’s 2014 cam­paign ads. Still, im­ages of Pelosi (and Obama) will ap­pear early and of­ten to make the polit­ic­al-mes­saging medi­cine go down easi­er. Says the NR­CC’s An­drea Bozek, “Nancy Pelosi’s pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words.”

Shane Gold­mach­er

You Are Cor­di­ally In­vited

Both Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans are us­ing this year’s State of the Uni­on guest list to in­vite trouble. Law­makers are each al­lowed a +1, and they’re us­ing those seats to high­light some of the na­tion’s woes — and, of course, to make things un­com­fort­able for their foes.

Demo­crat­ic Reps. Mark Po­can of Wis­con­sin and Alan Lowenth­al of Cali­for­nia are ask­ing col­leagues to in­vite the long-term job­less, to put Con­gress on the spot for fail­ing to ret­ro­act­ively ex­tend long-term un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance this month.

Re­pub­lic­ans are ex­pec­ted to bring along guests to high­light prob­lems with Obama­care. Rep. Mar­sha Black­burn of Ten­ness­ee, for ex­ample, plans to bring a wo­man with lupus whose in­sur­ance was can­celed. The parade of prob­lems will vie with the pres­id­ent for cam­era time, al­low­ing law­makers to send their own mes­sages about the state of the uni­on.

Elahe Iz­adi

Mur­murs

Drilling Down Rep. Mike Simpson isn’t the first House vet­er­an to face a tea-party chal­lenger, but he has an un­usu­al army of al­lies: his fel­low dent­ists. Their in­flu­en­tial lobby is ex­pec­ted to go all out this year to pro­tect the Idaho Re­pub­lic­an, one of only two dent­ists on Cap­it­ol Hill. The lobby has already dropped $22,000 in mail­ers and $20,000 on calls to Idaho voters to gauge the race. On the oth­er side is the well-heeled Club for Growth, which named Simpson its first tar­get for de­feat in 2014; its can­did­ate has already raised more than $525,000, in­clud­ing some of his own money. “We’ll try to raise as much as we can” for Simpson, says Mike Gra­ham, an ex­ec­ut­ive at the Amer­ic­an Dent­al As­so­ci­ation. And the group’s track re­cord is strong. When the oth­er lone dent­ist in Con­gress, Rep. Paul Gos­ar, R-Ar­iz., won his seat in 2010, nearly 600 dent­ists con­trib­uted $265,000 to his cam­paign — ac­count­ing for more than half his donors and over 40 per­cent of his haul. When Gos­ar faced a Club-backed tea-party chal­lenge in 2012, the dent­al lobby packed $150,000 in­to his race. Dent­ists na­tion­wide in­jec­ted an­oth­er $210,000. Simpson, 63, is an es­pe­cially val­ued ally for the dent­al as­so­ci­ation (whose polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tee has spent an av­er­age of $2.5 mil­lion in each of the past three cycles). He’s a mem­ber of the speak­er’s in­ner circle and the chair­man of an Ap­pro­pri­ations sub­com­mit­tee. “It makes a dif­fer­ence, sure, to have an ap­pro­pri­at­or who is a dent­ist,” Gra­ham says.

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