BUT not debate while partying.
Hill Republicans continue to own Capitol Lounge, but is everything else slipping away? Democratic staffers have taken over U Street and are looking to expand their jurisdiction.
Will an Obama Administration mean nobody can get a table at Chi-Cha Lounge and Local 16’s roof top will always stay packed? Does a McCain Administration mean Smith Point stays the hottest bar in the city for another four years? Does DC need another bi-partisan bar (besides Cap Grille) for hill staff to reach across the aisle?
On the same drag, Saint Ex and Local 16 are unofficial liberal hangouts, where Congressional interns gape at Democratic “celebrities” like Bill Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart and senior Gore adviser Michael Feldman. The Center for American Progress holds happy hours atop Local 16’s roof deck, and Terry McAuliffe and Congressman Artur Davis hosted a Unite for Change party for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama supporters there.
During the Clinton administration, some U Street spots were decidedly Democratic. Simmons, the political analyst, remembers one Bush twin entering Stetsons in 2001—prompting his friend, who also worked in the Clinton White House, to declare, “They can have the Congress, they can have the White House, but they can never take Stetsons.”
Should Obama win the 2008 election, the party atmosphere among young Washingtonians is destined for—to borrow the candidate’s favorite word—change. “Washington gets its lifeblood from the people that come in with each new administration,” says Simmons. Meghan Gaffney, a fundraiser for Democratic organizations, speculates, “[Obama’s] staff is young and diverse, so you would definitely have a more stylish and interesting community.” (They’ve already staked out Lounge 201, right across from Obama’s Senate offices.) Even now, some Republicans say the president’s dismal poll numbers have clipped their social wings. “There’s a lot of animosity,” says one White House staffer. “You just want to go out with people who are like you, so you don’t end up debating.”