John Gizzi's Short Takes

Rahm and Ray Show:  When the Former Members of Congress Association honored U.S. Secretary of Transportation and onetime Republican House member (1994-2008) Ray LaHood on March 16, the surprise speaker stole the show.  Addressing a full house at Washington’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel that included current Representatives Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) and Charles Rangel (D.-NY.) as well as former members from throughout the country, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel said the warm introduction he was given “would make my mother proud and my father amazed.”  Turning to the guest of honor, Emmanuel recalled how, when he served as a Democratic House member (2000-08), fellow Illinoisan LaHood would organize dinners that included lawmakers from both parties.

“We would consume six bottles of wine,” deadpanned Emmanuel, “and I picked up the tab!”  Declaring that this was “payback time,” Emmanuel pointed to the lone Republican in the Obama Cabinet and admonished him to “make five more calls on the healthcare bill!”

Reed Nixes Race:  With the news that Rep. John Linder (R.-Ga.) is stepping down after 18 years in office, speculation immediately focused on former State GOP Chairman and past Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed as a possible candidate in the 7th District (suburban Atlanta).

But Reed put the speculation to rest two weeks ago when he announced that he would not run for Congress.  In ruling out a race, the onetime “boy wonder” of evangelical conservatism pointed to his latest project: the Faith and Freedom organization, which is dedicated to mobilizing values voters behind conservative candidates for the House and Senate in 2010.  With Faith and Freedom just beginning to take off, Reed explained, it was more important to help elect many conservatives to office than just one congressman.

The GOP candidates now running to succeed Linder in the heavily Republican district are State Sen. Dan Balbour and State Rep. Clay Cox, both considered strong conservatives.