Rumpled Senate Democrats Share Their Fashion Secrets

By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is a man who stands accused of many things -- loving television cameras, the New York Giants and the sound of his own voice, for example -- but never in his storied career has he been called a fashion plate.

And no one in his or her right mind would suspect Schumer of having a European tailor. Which is why his (loud) conversation aboard a recent northbound train came as such a shock to two informants, who also happened to be sitting in the same first-class car.

Schumer, along with the equally unfashionable Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), were headed to Philadelphia tomorrow to attend a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which Schumer chairs. A young woman who works at the DSCC rode with them. The senators, uncharacteristically, happened to notice her stylish clothes and were overheard complimenting her necklace.

Leahy, whose idea of haute couture is a pair of Birkenstocks and a flannel shirt, mistook the aide's green necklace for authentic jade. She confessed that it wasn't and that she had bought it at Target. Which prompted Schumer -- talking at his usual 60 to 80 decibels above normal speaking levels -- to tell his aide and colleagues about his French tailor.

"His name is Jay-Say Pennay!" shouted Schumer, using a variation on "Jacques Pennay," the more common faux-Francophilic pronunciation of J.C. Penney.

Schumer does have a thing for fashion, apparently. He offered legislation last summer with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to fight piracy and protect New York's fashion designers from (mostly Chinese) rip-offs.

Asked about his French tailor, Schumer confirmed and quipped, "And I do all my shopping at Tarjay." (That's Target for those who don't parle Schumerese.)

Reid-ing the Caucus Tea Leaves

New numbers are in on Nevada voter registration, and it looks good for the Silver State's Democrats. But potentially troubling for Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.).

Statewide, Democrats went from trailing Republicans by 6,000 voters in the fall of 2006 to a 35,000-voter edge now, a net gain of more than 40,000 voters in a swing state. According to the state's Democratic Party, half of those gains consisted of voters who registered for the Democratic presidential caucus seven weeks ago.

As we reported in late January, this could help the Democratic nominee, because President Bush narrowly won the state in 2000 and 2004. It also could boost the reelection chances in 2010 of Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, who championed the Nevada caucus.

Most immediately, it could make Porter's reelection bid that much more difficult. In 2006, when Porter won by fewer than 4,000 votes over a political newcomer, Democrats had a 2,000-vote edge among registered voters. Now, after the surge of newly registered Democrats from the caucus, Republicans trail by almost 19,000 voters in the state's 2nd Congressional District.

Republican strategists said they already have launched a voter registration drive for the Nov. 4 election and promise to close the gap.

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