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Setting the Stage

Posted on Sun Jan 29th, 2023 @ 4:56am by President Sal Andolini

Mission: September, 2022
Location: Washington DC
Timeline: Date 2022-08-10 at 1200

Washington DC was in full swing one August day. It had been quite chaotic with Vice President Kamala Harris resigning after a breast cancer diagnosis; Now the attack on the Speaker’s husband had been the talk of the town.

Today there was some talk and Anthony Dipaolo came up, compared to Sal’s large frame Dipaolo was shorter and whippet-thin, the two men had been a team since they met at Camp Lejeune when the other man was voluntold to serve as an assistant gunner during the first Gulf War. It turned out they grew up in the same neighborhood and had been friends since.

“Rumors buzzing like crazy, Democratic caucus is meeting.”

“New Speaker?” the two men walked up the steps of the capital building. “That would be my bet.”

“Even money at best, I mean if this was Connie how fast would your resignation be in Springfield.”

“Warp speed.” Sal paused, “And if this was Jessica I know you’d do the same thing.” They walked through the corridors, stopping to talk to a few people, from one of the congressional reporters that prowled to one of the custodial staff who he commiserate with about the Washington Commanders and Dan Snyder, both agreeing he needed to sell the damn team already.

It was typical for Sal, someone who was equally at home talking to a big donor’s lunch at the Union League Club, then spending time just talking with the doorman about anything. It made him the Illinois Democratic Party’s white whale, the one Republican they couldn’t beat.

When they entered his office, the same small office he had since his first day in the House, While the official story is he just liked the office, unofficially he just didn’t want to move his stuff and he had his office just the way he liked it.

Finally, he was settling in to make phone calls when he got a knock at his office door.

Standing there was Anthony who had a befuddled look on his face. “The leaders are here.”

“Minority or majority?” Sal asked. while making a note on the call sheet he had been given.


That made him put down his pen and look up. “Send them in.”

Soon Steny Hoyer and Kevin McCarthy were both in his office, after greetings were exchanged the three men sat down and got to the point.

“We need a speaker.” This came from Hoyer.

Sal paused, as Mccarthy chipped in, “Without a speaker, nothing gets done, and to be frank as much as we joke about it, shutting down congress would impact both sides.“

“I agree.” Sal continued, “And the problem is, whoever gets the job is seen as the post-election frontrunner. So you don’t want to give it to someone who will alienate swing voters. But enough of the caucus might concentrate behind an unsuitable candidate, and chaos ensues.”

“Precisely.” This came from Hoyer who looked positively dyspeptic, “And chaos makes it look like we can’t govern.”

Mccarthy sighed, “And while the campaign optics would be better for us, the country would be hurt by this.” Sal raised an eyebrow; had the California Congressman listened to him in one of his late evening rants about how DC never worked, and how it hurt the country and made them all look like fools?

“So.” Sal paused and seemed to be in thought, “What I would do, if it was me, pick someone about to retire, so there’s no issue with them being front runner, as a caretaker speaker then fight the battle next term.”

“Exactly.” Hoyer nodded, “Someone respected by both parties so that we can have an easy win, both to get this over with, and Nancy gets to spend more time with Paul.”

“You’ve got my vote for the compromise candidate, but who is the right candidate? Cheney and Kinzinger would be my first choices but they burned bridges. Some folks won’t agree, they could get through, but could have issues.”

“You’re forgetting someone.”

That made Sal look confused, “Who?”


“What?” Sal looked confused. Then he responded on instinct, “Are you guys nuts? What the hell?”

“Think about it. Both sides respect you. You have no enemies, even the Freedom folks love you.” Mccarthy spoke up, and was joined by Hoyer, “Same on our side, even the squad folks like you.“

“You do I recall that interview where I called Trump shit in a silk suit ?”

“No one remembers that interview.“ Mccarthy spoke up, “But we can lose some votes, you have the support.”

“Enough to support me for the speaker’s chair?” Sal asked

“Yes. Do you think we’d be here if we didn’t have the votes?”

They had a point: who would put their necks on the line with such an insane proposal without making sure it could pass? Then he asked one question, “What about presidential succession? I’m not a Democrat, so if something happens this is not how the presidency is supposed to change parties.”

“I talked to the White House.” Hoyer spoke up, “they’ll get a VP appointed by mid-September and we can fast-track confirmation in the House. And Senate.”

“So odds are it’s just a historical footnote, and then I can maybe get a bit more from Loyola to join the faculty.”


“Ok, you sold me,“ Sal nodded, “let me call Connie to get her to sign on, and I can let you know this afternoon?”

“Sure sounds good.”


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