Who's Who at the Parties' Parties

(By Charles Dharapak -- Associated Press)
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By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, August 21, 2008

A few members of Congress will play important roles at the national party nominating conventions in Denver and the Twin Cities the next two weeks, serving as everything from official bosses of the convention floor to hosts of parties for key insiders.

Feel as though Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's delegates aren't getting a fair shake? See House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), the parliamentarian at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Want to offer amendments on social issues to the GOP platform? Check in with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), the chairman of the platform committee at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Some of these lawmakers hope their jobs end up being largely ceremonial -- Hoyer really doesn't want to referee a floor fight involving Clinton supporters -- but they will be key players nonetheless. Here's a rundown of members to watch over the next two weeks, starting with the Democratic convention on Monday:

Democrats Running Denver

· House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.): Despite the intense media focus on Clinton and her supporters, the woman with the most official power in Denver is Pelosi. She's the chairwoman of the convention, a post that makes her overseer of the week's activities inside the Pepsi Center.

Pelosi -- who was a top staffer for the 1984 convention in San Francisco -- recently joked to reporters that her chairmanship was "ceremonial." She said she's just trying to let staffers do their jobs without getting in the way. But Pelosi will be a semi-frequent presence in the convention hall, sometimes serving as emcee, along with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Beyond her day job, Pelosi may just be the belle of the late-night party circuit.

The speaker is slated to be serenaded on opening night of the convention by none other than Tony Bennett at the after-hours "Salute to Speaker Nancy Pelosi" following the day's proceedings. James Taylor and soul singer John Legend also are scheduled to perform. The party is hosted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

On Wednesday, Pelosi is scheduled to host a reception honoring women in Congress. Broadway star Idina Menzel is slated to perform at that event.

· Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.): Lacking any official title, Reid will host fundraising events all week for Senate Democrats as part of their drive toward a filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats. Reid also has a nice speaking slot: 8 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday. While an aide said his speech will focus on energy independence as a national security issue, Reid also may feel inclined to validate the political bona fides of the vice presidential nominee, who will speak two hours later. Several of the supposed finalists to be Barack Obama's running mate are senators in Reid's caucus.

· Hoyer: As parliamentarian, the Prince George's County lawmaker is in charge of making sure the business on the floor runs smoothly. Hoyer also must establish procedures to handle reports from delegates and, as an aide put it, "appeals to the decisions of the chair."

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