Last weekend was the 115th annual Pennsylvania Society (the “Society”) Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Society is nonpartisan and is described by its PRESIDENT JAMES NEVELS as “vigorous champions for community development, personal achievement and economic progress, here in the Commonwealth and across our nation.”.
A century ago, the celebration was a dinner of predominantly Philadelphia businessmen who spent significant time in New York on financial matters. Now it is a four-day series of parties with a more of a political flavor. Businessmen attend, but frequently in the company of their government-affairs personnel.
The weekend tour for the herd begins on Thursday at Club Macanudo. Pennsylvania Republican National COMMITTEEWOMAN CHRISTINE TORETTI hosts this party. It is not easy to get an invitation to it. Guests included LT. GOV. JIM CAWLEY, Pennsylvania House SPEAKER SAM SMITH and many other legislators. As Toretti is the founder of the Anne Anstine Series of Excellence in Public Service, many Anstine women were in attendance, including political commentator FARAH JIMENEZ, as well as other Philadelphia-area Republican activists RENEE CHESLER, MICHELLE LEONARD, ELISSA PRICHEP, MICHELLE MATTUS and DENISE FUREY.
Many members of the herd moved onto a reception at Connolly’s Restaurant hosted by the House Republican Caucus Committee. Also that night, a reception honoring ROB GLEASON, the Chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, was held at Whiskey Blue hosted by the Republican Party of Chester Co. and its Chairman VAL DiGIORGIO.
Friday evening included a number of receptions of some Philadelphia-based and other law firms. Blank Rome held its event at the Intercontinental Hotel. Blank Rome partners include former Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary MICHAEL KRANCER. The Washington, D.C.-based firm Arent Fox held its annual Society event at its New York City offices, which have a stunning view of the city. The head of the firm’s government-affairs activities is former Congressman PHIL ENGLISH. The event honored the current Pennsylvania congressional delegation.
Late Friday evening, JOHN DOUGHERTY, the business manager of IBEW 98, hosted his annual event at the Waldorf. Attendees included not only management of Local 98 but also many political activists and officeholders from both sides of the isle. Philadelphia Republican attendees included WARD LEADERS MIKE CIBIK, LINDSAY DOERING, WALT VOGLER, CHRIS VOGLER and MATT WOLFE. While this event is usually packed, this year it was mobbed.
Saturday morning started for many with the University of Pennsylvania’s breakfast at the Penn Club. Gleason is a member of the Penn Board of Trustees. Also that morning was one of the premier events of the weekend, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Symposium at the Metropolitan Club. Speakers included Corbett, and SENS. PAT TOOMEY and BOB CASEY. While the speeches were great, perhaps the more-interesting political conversations were going on in the break room and at the luncheon.
If you missed this event, perhaps you were lucky enough to have lunch at the 1789 Society reception at B. Smith’s. The 1789 Society is a predominantly African American nonpartisan political group whose members are from both Philadelphia and New York. COUNCILMAN DAVID OH’S law firm Zarwin Baum was a sponsor of the event.
The Society Dinner was on Saturday. Over 1,500 were in attendance in the Waldorf ballroom. This year’s awardee and keynote speaker was VP JOE BIDEN. Biden was born in Scranton – thus his Pennsylvania connection.
It was rumored a number of Republicans shipped the dinner because Biden was speaking. Actually, I believe many ate elsewhere because the cost of the dinner has become a bit pricy at $450 per person. Biden’s speech started out well, with a charming discussion of his blue-collar upbringing. However, many in the crowd, including some Democrats, were disappointed when his comments turned political and partisan.
After the dinner, there were yet more events, including a reception hosted by Dilworth Paxson. Attendees were greeted at the door by Dilworth partner and newly elected Pennsylvania Superior Court JUSTICE VIC STABILE. Saul Ewing’s reception, which was on the same floor as the ballroom, started late owing to the increased security for Biden. The last scheduled event of the weekend was Temple University’s breakfast on Sunday.