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Breakfast With Charlie DLA Piper’s 2006 Pre-Election Analysis breakfast on Oct. 24 was a veritable Who’s Who of Washington’s influence community, including former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, former U.S. ambassador to Germany Daniel Coats, and Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson, all taking in pollster Charlie Cook’s commentary over scrambled eggs and bacon at the Willard Intercontinental hotel. Cook, who said handicapping the 2006 midterm elections is like “nailing Jell-O to a wall,” expects the Democrats to take between 20 and 35 seats in the House and says they have a chance to take control of the Senate. Comparing the current political environment to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane, Cook said control of the Senate depends on how incumbent Republican Sens. Conrad Burns (Mont.), Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), George Allen (Va.), and Jim Talent (Mo.) fare between now and Election Day. He said it is likely Democrats will pick up five to six seats, including those currently occupied by Sens. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). All bets weren’t off, though, as DLA’s panel discussion reminded the crowd. “The Texas 22nd shows you how badly we have to screw things up,” says Dick Armey, former Republican House majority leader from Texas, referring to former Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s seat. Armey is still hoping the Republicans can pull off the unexpected and keep control of Congress. — Anna Palmer
Just the Numbers Midyear numbers for 2006 keep pouring in. Fannie Mae spent $5.3 million in the first half of 2006 lobbying on a bevy of measures, including hurricane recovery efforts in Louisiana and tax-credit matters. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. spent $4.2 million lobbying the government for bills protecting financial data and federal housing regulation. Edison Electric Institute Inc. dropped $5.5 million on chemical-facility security and pension protection. And the AARP spent $12.1 million on age discrimination in employment, consumer, and privacy issues. Whew! — Joe Crea
Curtain Up! Fresh off their recently-debuted “media guide,” a 47-page wire-bound booklet (think the U.S. Congress Handbook) listing the names and photos of Patton Boggs partners who have “an interest in speaking with the media,” the normally tight-lipped powerhouse held a pre-election briefing for reporters last week. Dubbed “What’s at Stake: Views From Across the Aisle for the Next Congress,” Patton bigwigs including Democrat Thomas Boggs Jr., Republican Benjamin Ginsberg, and other firm partners pontificated on life with or without the Democrats in charge. Boggs predicted that if they become the majority party, the Democrats would likely “get tough on lobbyists” by changing House rules. “I do think the Democrats will be challenged to do something because they will control the rules . . . you can do a lot about (changing) disclosures, earmarks, and rules,” he said. Though all would not be lost for Boggs. One thing he is certain of if the Democrats take over: “I’ll be a lot busier than Ben,” said Boggs, pointing to his Republican colleague. — Joe Crea
AFTER DARK They’re Baaack Celebrating its 100-year anniversary, Occidental Restaurant is poised to reopen in December after undergoing kitchen renovations for the past four months. “A complete gut,” says Rodney Scruggs, the restaurant’s executive chef of one year. He declined to say how much money was spent on the restaurant, located just a half block from the White House, adjacent to the Willard Intercontinental on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Occidental dining room will maintain its traditional ambience but Scruggs is betting that his cuisine, which he describes as “classical American with modern interpretations,” will soar. The menu has been pared down in favor of a simpler one. A sweet onion tartlet with Point Reyes blue cheese served atop a zucchini-basil sauce will be one of several appetizers from which to choose. And red meat aficionados can partake of the fennel-pollen- and juniper-seed-crusted venison loin, served with a chestnut custard and a sauce of grappa-soaked Maine blueberries. The restaurant has two private rooms that, combined, hold more than 90 people. “We want to get back into being one of those great restaurants (in town),” says Scruggs, who first began working at Occidental as a line cook when he was 18 years old. — Joe Crea
HEARD ON THE STREET • “He betrayed his oath of office and violated the trust of those he represented. There is no place for him in this Congress.” — House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and other Republican leaders in a joint statement condemning Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio). • “Shut the f—k up, would you? Shut up if you can’t take a joke.” — Barbra Streisand to a heckler following her skit with a Bush impersonator at her concert at Madison Square Garden. • “I’ve been to several U2 concerts, but I don’t know whether I went to that one. But I can tell you that as political director, I was always very careful to make sure everything I did was above-board and consistent with the rules.” — Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who may have received tickets to attend a U2 concert via Jack Abramoff’s suite at the former MCI Center. (Los Angeles Times , Oct. 15)

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