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The ultimate insider’s guide—and schedule—to the Pa. Society weekend (Updated)

This weekend in New York City is where past political folklore and present electoral jockeying meet at a crossroads—as they do every winter in the Big Apple.

That’s right political junkies, it’s time for the annual Pennsylvania Society weekend, a 48-hour orgy of political hob-knobbing mixed with copious amounts of food and alcohol, a rare chance for a far-flung political establishment from one of the country’s largest states to convene within literally just a few city blocks. There will be cocktail parties. There will be receptions. There will be fundraisers. Dinners. Breakfasts. Anything at all that gives elected officials, political candidates, lobbyists, bankers, operatives, lawyers, business leaders—and yes, journalists too—an excuse to kick back a few and revel in their own powerful glory.

The roots of how the state’s leaders came to gather in New York once a year run all the way back to the turn of the 20th century, when, as the story goes, the folks in power were looking for somewhere nice to go to talk business. Some say they wanted their wives to leave them alone, so they picked Manhattan, with all its shopping distractions.

More than a century later, The Pennsylvania Society itself is a powerful charity with illustrious past presidents like Andrew Carnegie and Charles Schwab. And since that first trip north to the Waldorf-Astoria in 1899, the weekend has ballooned into a series of political distractions from the main event—a Saturday night dinner which is the only event actually sanctioned by The Society, which takes pains to keep its distance from the political revelry.

Even though Gov. Ed Rendell once called the weekend “a lot of sound and furor signifying nothing,” the state’s leaders gather this year with a critical election cycle on the horizon, and some think the insider landscape could emerge markedly different. Naturally, will be there in force, ready to soak up the insider gossip and send it back your way. We’ll be covering candidate receptions, interviewing the 2010 hopefuls, attending off-record events—and of course, blogging and tweeting the entire time.

In short, whether you’re in New York this weekend or not, there’s no better place to monitor the chaotic goings-on.

And so, we’re proud to present our influential audience with something we hope you’ll really enjoy: the most complete schedule of the weekend’s events that you’ll find anywhere. We’ve got the skinny on more than 40 events, from the traditional ESPN Zone kick-off Friday afternoon to the final Temple University breakfast Sunday morning, and everything in between.

Before we serve up the goods, a word of caution: This schedule was compiled by gathering information from well over a dozen political insiders, and as such, there will inevitably be some holes, and probably some messed up times and locations. As always, we invite you to help us improve the product. Think we missed something? Got a detail wrong? Let us know by e-mailing or posting a comment.

And remember what lobbyist Ken Lawrence said a couple years back: The weekend “is a marathon not a sprint. Eat full meals, wear comfortable shoes, sleep when you get back to PA.” Oh, and “if an elected official asks you if you want a drink, it means they want a drink.”

Without further ado, we give you the ultimate Pennsylvania Society weekend schedule. Want to take it with you to New York? Download it as a PDF here.


Christine Toretti Reception
6-8 p.m., Club Macanudo, 28 East 63rd Street
The skinny: The well-known Republican national committeewoman will be holding court at this midtown cigar club.


Republican State Committee Annual Commonwealth Club Luncheon
Noon, The W Hotel, Forest Ballroom
The skinny: We hear that his GOP-highness Karl Rove will be in attendance. At $1,000 per person, don’t expect to be there if you’re not already on the list.

BlankRome Government Relations Briefing
12-2 p.m., The Chrysler Building, 24th floor boardroom
The skinny: This small, exclusive gathering of high-powered lobbyists might very well be the hardest event to get into all weekend. Haven’t been invited? Tough luck.

Forum for a Better Pennsylvania hosts the gubernatorial candidates
12:30-1:45 p.m., Waldorf Astoria, Conrad Suite
The skinny: Hosted by the organization of black business and civic leaders, this off-the-record candidate’s forum will mark one of the first times the hopeful state executives have stood before the same audience. We know candidates from both parties are attending, but exactly which ones are unclear. Attendance to this event is very exclusive. If you’re not a member, don’t even bother trying.

Lou Barletta reception
2 p.m., O’Neil’s Irish Bar, 3rd Avenue near East 46th
The skinny: The Hazleton Mayor and two-time felled GOP candidate in the 11th Congressional District announced this week that he’ll run for a third time next year. A newly-declared candidate in a public setting? Invite or no, you’re probably golden.

The Metropolitan Caucus
2 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria
The skinny: The Philadelphia-area lawmakers at this gathering may want some modicum of privacy to talk regional politics. Go at your own risk.

Pennsylvania Society Scrimmage by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney
2-4 p.m., ESPNZone, Times Square
The skinny: This party hosted by the powerful law and lobbying firm is often seen as the unofficial kick-off event for the weekend. It’s often packed to the brim, so even if you don’t have an invite, your chances of getting in are good.

Broadband Kickoff
2-5 p.m., ESPNZone, Times Square
The skinny: It’s hosted by the Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania. Think they’ll be talking about Comcast’s new NBC unit?

Forum for a Better Pennsylvania Reception
3:30-5 p.m., Waldorf Astoria, Conrad Suite
The skinny: The follow-up event to the organization’s earlier off-record conversation with the candidate’s for governor.

Gleason Family Cocktail Reception
4-6 p.m., Harvard Club, Gordon Reading Room, 35 West 44th Street
The skinny: State GOP chairman Rob Gleason’s family company is celebrating 100 years in business.

Jack Wagner for Governor Reception
4-6 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria
The skinny: The Democrat is trying to build some insider support in a primary where many party leaders are backing his opponent Dan Onorato. Go ahead, he wants to meet you.

Tom Corbett fundraiser
4 p.m., the residence of John and Margo Catsimatidis
The skinny: Are you a donor? No? Go somewhere else.

Bryan Lentz for Congress fundraiser
5-7 p.m., Public House, 140 East 41st Street
The skinny: Lentz faces one of the most competitive House races in the country in the 7th District. Bring a check or go somewhere else.

Waste Management Eastern Group Cocktails
5-7 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria
The skinny: Keep your head down, it could be harder to get into this one if you’re not on the list.

Michael Clark Reception
5-7 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, The Towers, Suite 32-A
The skinny: Anyone know who this guy is? Everyone’s got the event on their schedule, but no one seems to know Michael Clark.

Dominic Pileggi Reception
5 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria
The skinny: Everyone wants to hang with the state Senate Majority Leader.

Children’s Champion Reception
5-7 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Starlight Roof
The skinny: Senator Bob Casey and the state’s former First Lady Michele Ridge are both getting awards from host Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Mike Gerber Reception
5:30-7 p.m., Public House, 140 East 41st Street
The skinny: This is billed as a private fundraiser for the chair of the state House Democrats’ campaign arm, who’s increasingly becoming a force in Keystone State politics. If you don’t have an invite, write a check or go somewhere else.

Friends of Dan Onorato Reception
6-8 p.m., The Waldorf-Astoria, Hilton Room
The skinny: The Democratic front-runner for governor is letting us in… so you’re probably good to go.

Cozen O’Connor Reception
6-9 p.m., 21 Club, 21 West 52nd Street
The skinny: Getting into this Philly law firm’s parties can be tough. But if you move now, it’s probably not too late to get on the list.

Keystone Victory Fund Reception
6:30 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria
The skinny: Senator Bob Casey and wife Terese are being honored.

Stevens & Lee Cocktails and Dinner
7 p.m., Four Season Hotel, Cosmopolitan Suite
The skinny: Cocktails are at 7 and dinner is at 8:30 for this mid-Atlantic professional services firm. We’re told it’s invitation only, and being at the Four Seasons, you might want to just go elsewhere if you’re not on the list.

BlankRome Reception
7 p.m., Hotel Intercontinental
The skinny: Still by invitation, but certainly easier to slip into than its smaller lobbyist briefing earlier in the day.

Gerlach for Governor Reception
7-9 p.m., Arent Fox LLP, 1675 Broadway
The skinny: With much of his party backing Tom Corbett, Jim Gerlach is looking for supporters. See you there.

Second Annual Book Bash
9 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Starlight Roof
The skinny: This charitable event raises money to buy books for children in poverty (that’s what the $250 ticket price is for). Senator Bob Casey, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will all be on the scene.

IBEW Local 98 Reception
9:30 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Hilton Room
The skinny: This party runs past midnight, and it’s one of those truly bipartisan events. Democrats and Republicans, drinking together. Getting in is pretty easy.

Governor Mifflin Society Desserts and Cocktails
10 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Conrad Salon
The skinny: Admission to this popular, late-night party, sponsored by a bevy of of lobbying and PR shops, is tightly-enforced. The invitation we saw sternly warns that invites are non-transferable, RSVPs were due by Nov. 30 and “those without proper credentials will be denied admission.” Ouch. If you’ve got some favors to call in, you might be able to pull something off. But you’re probably out of luck.

Duane Morris Reception
10 p.m., 21 Club, 21 West 52nd Street
The skinny: If you haven’t been invited by this powerful law firm and its lobbying arm yet, start working the phones now.

Joe Hoeffel After Dark
Midnight, The W Hotel, Canyon and Plateau Room
The skinny: The Montgomery County Commissioner and Democratic candidate for governor entered the race late, and he wants your support. See you there.


PNC Breakfast Reception
7:30-9:30 a.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Skylight Roof
The skinny: Chairman and CEO James Rohr will be on the scene.

University of Pennsylvania Breakfast Reception
8:30-10:30 a.m., The Penn Club, 30 West 44th Street
The skinny: Penn President Amy Gutmann is hosting this invitation-only event. We scored one—but don’t expect to read anything more about it; it’s off-record.

Pennsylvania Manufacturer’s Association Annual Seminar and Luncheon
9 a.m., The Metropolitan Club, 1 East 60th Street
The skinny: Attendance at the invitation-only event hosted by Wachovia Bank and the powerful trade group is a must for anyone with business interests in the state. Lots of candidates for office will be there. Lunch follows the morning seminar.

Tom Corbett for Governor Reception
11:30 a.m., Smith & Wollensky, 97 3rd Avenue
The skinny: The state GOP’s favored candidate for governor, deep into his Bonusgate investigation, will be holding court. Getting into this one shouldn’t be too tough.

Bravo Group Reception
12 p.m., Maggie’s Place, 21 East 47th Street
The skinny: Lunchtime with this big-time lobbying and PR shop should be a fun one.

Chris Doherty for Governor Reception
12 p.m., Matt’s Grill, 932 8th Avenue
The skinny: One of the more recent candidates to jump into the race, this Democrat should be welcoming all comers. But it’s a little further from the Waldorf than most events, so plan ahead.

Focus on Infrastructure Reception
12:30-2:30 p.m., Maloney and Porcelli Restaurant, 37 East 50th Street
The skinny: Leaders in infrastructure policy will be meeting at a time when the federal government is pouring money into new projects.

Meet and Greet with Joe Watkins
1-3 p.m., Benjamin Hotel, Emery Bar, 125 East 50th Street
The skinny: Some Republican insiders think this longtime Republican operative and Philly pastor is exactly the man to complement Tom Corbett as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

Commonwealth Energy Group Party
2-4 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Conrad Suite
The skinny: With the Marcellus Shale set to be tapped, these guys are in the money.

Charlie Dent reception
2:30 p.m., Mint Restaurant, 150 East 50th Street
The skinny: Congressman Dent is target No. 1 for Democrats next year.

Association of Independent Colleges and Universities Reception
3:30-5:30 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Astor Salon
The skinny: Probably the biggest higher-ed event of the weekend.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Cocktail Reception
4 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Starlight Roof
The skinny: After hosting the kick-off event the day before, these folks just can’t get enough. This one might be tougher to get into.

Thomas Hagen and Roger Richards Reception
5-6:30 p.m., Waldorf Astoria, The Towers, Suite 37A
The skinny: These two hosts are on the board of The Pennsylvania Society… you remember, that group we all supposedly came here for?

The 111th Annual Dinner of The Pennsylvania Society
7 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Grand Ballroom
The skinny: Everyone will be at this main event—provided they’re willing to shell out for the $300 tickets. It’s preceded by a 6 p.m. reception in the East Foyer. Not in the mood for black tie? There’s all sorts of side dinners going on you can try to sneak into. We hear Dilworth Paxon and Greenlee Partners are among the companies breaking bread away from the Grand Ballroom.

After dinner, the meaning of the word “schedule” breaks down, as the Waldorf-Astoria transforms into a hotel full of simultaneous parties that people mull in and out of. We’ve got a couple listed below, but just follow the crowds. You’ll end up somewhere.

Premier Party
Following the dinner, Waldorf-Astoria, Oscar’s
The skinny: Hosted by the big-time trade lobby, The Energy Association of Pennsylvania.

The Governor’s Reception
9:30 p.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Basildon and Jade Rooms
The skinny: Ed Rendell may be a lame-duck governor, but he can still throw a party. This rock-till-midnight affair is hosted by the big-time lobbyist Stephen Wojdak and Rendell’s own Ballard Spahr.


Temple University and Wachovia Brunch
9 a.m., Waldorf-Astoria, Starlight Roof
The skinny: At this final event of the weekend, a chance for the late-night revelers to work off those hangovers.

Correction: This schedule originally listed a Saturday night reception hosted by BNY Mellon. The bank is not hosting a reception this year.

December 11, 2009 at 9:00 am Staff



comments [24] | post a comment

  1. Danny B

    Dec 8th, 2009

    Thanks for putting this together, Dan!

  2. wow

    Dec 8th, 2009

    Great work!

  3. Try vedi

    Dec 8th, 2009

    Any of the PA 6 guys going to be there?

  4. Dan Hirschhorn

    Dec 8th, 2009

    To my knowledge, pretty much all of them will be there. But as far as I know, none of them are holding their own events.

    Hope that helps.

    Dan Hirschhorn


    Dec 8th, 2009

    Looks good, Dan you should have mentioned dont forget to bring your CHECKBOOK and an extra pen :)

  6. Try Vedi!

    Dec 8th, 2009

    it does! I hope you’ll be giving as much coverage as possible!

  7. David Diano

    Dec 8th, 2009

    Looks like I’ll be glued to my computer all weekend reading the updates. :-)

    Unfortunately, this set of events highlights the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” and the influence of money on even local PA politics.

    Somehow, I’m not convinced the lobbyists and big money players have my best interests at heart. Also, NYC seems far enough away to avoid most of the press scrutiny this kind of event should have.

    I’m glad Dan will be there trying to keep them honest.

    Dan, BTW, would it make sense to add a category on PA2010 for some of the State Legislative and Senate races?

  8. Dan Hirschhorn

    Dec 8th, 2009

    Oh David, how I wish you hadn’t asked that last question :)

    I regret to say that will not be covering any races that are lower on the ballot than Congress, no matter what. Our resources are limited, even with more reporters soon coming on board (announcement coming soon). And I think what’s made us successful so far has been maintaining a strong, narrowly-focused brand. People log-on because we cover these races more closely than anyone else in the game. Adding more down-ballot races would dilute that.

    Don’t get me wrong, down-ballot races are important, and one could easily argue they’re the most important. But we won’t be covering them.

    My initial kidding aside, I welcome questions or thoughts on this topic.

    Dan Hirschhorn

  9. Larry

    Dec 8th, 2009

    Not covering state legislative elections is incredibly short sighted. In fact, 2010 state house races are much more important than the actual congressional races. Remember — the legislature elected in 2010 draws the congressional maps in 2011. If House Ds don’t hold the majority or Dems don’t win Gov’s race, then the maps will be written entirely by Republicans. Since we are losing a congressional seat in 2011, then Lentz winning or not won’t matter because they’ll redistrict his seat away. Or they redistrict the Gerlach seat away. Or Murtha. Or they throw Murphy in with Schwartz. Take your pick. And, some of these state house races will be nearly as expensive as Congressional seats (in 2000 Grucela/Gruppo approached $2m total; Wansacz/Parry more than $2m.) In fact, they are likely to be more sophisticatedly run and have more substantive issues debated than the Congressional races. The national parties learned their lessons from Delay in the earlier part of this decade…they will be much more dialed into holding or picking up the PA House than they ever were in the past. I would argue that you’d be doing your readers a bigger service to NOT cover goofy congressional races (except the biggies) and focus on the battleground state house contests. The sophisticated folks both here in PA and folks in DC would follow you closely.

  10. Dan Hirschhorn

    Dec 8th, 2009


    I’ll concede that all your points are very good ones. We’re just doing the best we can with limited resources.

    Now let’s get this thread back to discussing the Pa. Society weekend.

    Dan Hirschhorn

  11. Dan Hirschhorn

    Dec 8th, 2009

    OK, so I’ve updated the schedule and the pdf with two more events: Christine Toretti’s reception on Thursday night and Joe Watkins’ event on Saturday afternoon.

    Let’s start hearing from more readers. What are people most interested to see/hear this weekend?


  12. Commonwealth Citizen

    Dec 8th, 2009

    Dan, I love the website, and I am looking forward to checking in over the weekend on the event.

  13. [...] rolodex and secured invitations, there are scores of events to attend (there must be a list of every single one of them somewhere), but, as is typical with politics and socializing, there are only a few places to [...]

  14. Dan Hirschhorn

    Dec 8th, 2009

    One more added event: The Second Annual Book Bash Friday night.

  15. Anonymous

    Dec 8th, 2009

    This piece is creating a big buzz of it’s own. Very nice work Dan, hats off to you!!

  16. Anonymous

    Dec 9th, 2009

    Is it possible that all of the major Dem Gov candidates are hosting receptions except for Tom Knox, the richest guy in the race?

  17. my2cents

    Dec 9th, 2009

    Mike Clark? Think anthracite, anthracite, anthracite! Yes, coal is still a PA industry
    and Mike knows how to give a good party!

  18. David Diano

    Dec 9th, 2009

    Book Bash?
    Will they be bashing Palin’s book? :-)

  19. Vanessa

    Dec 9th, 2009

    Larry’s right. Congressional races are a snore this year and pale in comparison to what will happen with the balance of the PA state house.

    PA society is what it is every year except the candidates change–and I think the bipartisan air in the room will be gone with the battles coming up–Gov, House races and bonusgate.

    Dan, you should add the Whiskey bar (not hosted by anyone) after 1am is the best place to let loose.

  20. Dan Hirschhorn

    Dec 9th, 2009


    Knox is indeed the only Democratic candidate not doing an event. I think you’ve just pointed out a story for us to write.

    Dan Hirschhorn

  21. Calvin R. Tucker

    Dec 9th, 2009

    Is Lynn Swann having a reception this year?

  22. Dan Hirschhorn

    Dec 10th, 2009

    Added another event—Charlie Dent on Saturday. And erased BNY Mellon. They are not having a reception.

    PDF has also been updated.

    I don’t think Lynn Swann is having a reception.

    Dan Hirschhorn

  23. [...] PA2010’s List… [...]

  24. Kevin

    Dec 11th, 2009


    Will either of the Senators be there or is the schedule changing at all because they’re voting?

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