The Washingtonian Guide to GOP DC

The 2014 elections may have big consequences for national politics.

Locally, their effects will be more prosaic: A whole bunch of new Republicans will soon be arriving in one of the country’s bluest regions—a place many of them vilified on the campaign trail. Fear not, newcomers! Your new home has a rich GOP heritage. Here’s our guide to its personalities, haunts, and history.

GOP Superlatives

POWER COUPLE: JOHN SCOFIELD AND JENNIFER HING

Photograph of by Alfredo Flores for Hollywood on the Potomac.

In 2011, lobbyist Scofield (never John—he just goes by Scofield) started S-3 Group, a boutique firm with clients including Halliburton, General Motors, and Koch Industries. Not big on niceties, Scofield relies on his wife, Jennifer Hing, communications director for the House Appropriations Committee, known for her Hill savvy and appearances in fashion magazines. They entertain often at their Capitol Hill pad, with multi-course meals made from scratch.

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS: JOSH HOLMES

Photograph by Tom Williams/Newscom.

Having run Mitch McConnell’s bruising campaign to keep his seat, Holmes is dead center on the GOP suck-up circuit. “Republicans have one campus now—the Capitol,” says a GOP operative. “One reason it’s controlled by us is Holmes.”

SOCIAL DIRECTOR: JEFFREY J KIMBELL

His Magnum Entertainment Group brought top rock acts to play corporate events during the 2004 Republican convention and has been booking GOP gatherings since. “He put pizzazz into a very dull political circuit,” says a strategist.

TROUBLEMAKER: JOE POUNDER

The president of America Rising, a Rosslyn dirt-digging operation, he aired footage of Mark Udall, the loser in Colorado’s recent Senate battle, sounding skittish about moving against ISIS. “He’s relentless,” says one strategist of Pounder.

MAN OF THE WORLD: DOUG HEYE

Photograph by Michael Schwartz/Politico.

Eric Cantor’s former aide, a member of an exclusive Portuguese wine society, is spotted as often at the opera as on CNN. He’s “a lovable man of mystery,” says a fellow Republican.

Shades of Red

Washington remains a very blue area, but there are a few redoubts where the conservative-minded people can vote among their own. The reddest neighborhoods, based on 2012 presidential voting patterns, plus a few spots that dyed-in-the-wool Republicans have long called home:

Alexandria: Old Town (1).

Arlington: Clarendon (2) and northern tip of the county (3).

Fairfax: West of George Mason University (4).

Prince George’s County: Bowie (5).

Montgomery County: Poolesville (6), Redland (7), and Laytonsville (8).

DC: Spring Valley (9), western half of Georgetown (10), Embassy Row (11), and Capitol Hill (12).

REPUBLICAN NAMESAKES

The Lincoln Memorial

[John Foster] Dulles International Airport

[Massachusetts senator Charles] Sumner School, DC

[William] McKinley Technology High School, DC

Theodore Roosevelt Island

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

CAPITOL HILL MONUMENTS

James A. Garfield Monument

Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

[“Mr. Republican”] Robert Taft Memorial

[Secretary of State William] Seward Square

THE REAGAN BONANZA

Reagan National Airport

Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine, GW University

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

Ronald Reagan Republican Center

Ronald Wilson Reagan Middle School, Haymarket, Va.

Local Heroes

Tom Davis

A US representative from Fairfax County from 1995 to 2008, Davis believed that a healthy District benefited the entire region. He pushed for full voting rights for DC’s delegate to Congress. To the dismay of home-rule die-hards, he helped create the financial control board that returned the city to financial health.

 

Carol Schwartz

A Rockefeller Republican with a deep base in DC’s gay community, she ran four times for mayor as a Republican and once drew a full 42 percent of the vote. Of course, that was when she faced Marion Barry shortly after the Democratic titan’s jail stint.

 

Alexander Robey Shepherd

Known as Boss Shepherd, he served as governor of the District after the Civil War, turning a half-built capital into a city with paved roads and working sewers. Alas, his profligate spending for these projects led Congress to abolish the executive office in DC for a century.

 

Connie Morella

Republican long after it was cool in Montgomery County, Morella was elected to the House in 1986 from the wealthy, Democratic 8th District and survived until 2002, when she was gerrymandered out of office.

 

Richard Nixon

A longtime District resident who claimed he voted for DC independence as a congressman in 1948, President Nixon signed the Home Rule Act in 1973.

SocialCalendar

Parties GOP's wouldn't miss.

Dustin Diamond, left, at Ron Bonjean's, right, Christmas party. Photograph courtesy of Hollywood on the Potomac.

OL’ SAINT RON

Veteran press aide Ron Bonjean’s Christmas bash has been a red-letter day since 2003. “It’s a rite of passage for new staffers,” says an operative. The highlight is the unveiling of the C-list mystery guest. Gary Busey, Erik Estrada of the ’70s TV show CHiPs, and Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved by the Bell) have filled the post.

SOUTHERN STRATEGY

A spring shindig for transplanted Southerners, Taste of the South draws staffers of all levels. With the GOP takeover of the old Confederacy, it’s increasingly a single-party affair. This year’s edition, at the Washington Hilton, will likely be more high-spirited than usual.

LONELY HEARTS CLUB

The storied Bachelors & Spinsters Ball, scheduled for April 18, is a rowdy black-tie party for the “legally single.” Invitation-only, the decades-old B&S has become a hot ticket for singletons on the prowl, most of them of the GOP persuasion.

GatheringSpots

STARS-AND-STRIPERS

Photograph by Kallista Images/Getty Images.

Fly-fishing is the party’s unofficial sport, and “DC is one of the best fisheries in the world in the spring,” says John E. Tattersall, captain at Grand Ole Potomac Fly Fishing Guides, whose clientele runs heavily toward conservatives.

In April, when the shad are running, Tattersall wheels customers to a spot upstream from the Key Bridge, where he’s also seen clients haul out 48-inch giant striped bass within sight of the Watergate.

THE TUNE INN

331 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

If you’re looking for GOP congressional staffers, or a cheap beer and a decent burger, start at this Capitol Hill dive.

THE CAPITAL GRILLE

601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

“It’s everything we love,” says a Republican K Streeter. “A big steak, great wine, and a dark atmosphere.”

NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CLUB

300 First St., SE

The serious backslapping and arm-twisting goes on in the downstairs bar, which a GOP strategist compares to “market day in Algiers.”

BULLFEATHERS

410 First St., SE

This old-school House hangout, named for Teddy Roosevelt’s familiar G-rated imprecation, is a favorite for its convenience to the Rayburn office building and its comfort food.

JOHNNY’S HALF SHELL

400 N. Capitol St., NW

A short walk for Senate aides and paces from the Fox News DC bureau, happy hour here is a standing cocktail party for conservative minds.

TORTILLA COAST

400 First St., SE

Since Ted Cruz huddled with a cadre of Republicans during the 2013 shutdown, the basement private room of this Capitol Hill Mexican joint, always a go-to watering hole for House staffers, has taken on the glow of a GOP shrine.

SILO

919 Fifth St., NW

The twentysomething power set tends to move off the Hill down to this stark, wood-and-brick bar for craft cocktails or hit happy hours at Baby Wale, near Mount Vernon Square, where guys with loosened ties are three-deep at the bar. They end the night at Hill Country in Penn Quarter, especially at Rock ’n Twang live-band karaoke nights on Wednesdays.


This article appears in the January 2015 issue of Washingtonian.