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Lobbyists Ponder Plans for Events

Lobbyists and party planners who have descended on the Twin Cities to fete the GOP elite during the Republican National Convention were considering backup plans Sunday as they awaited official word on how Hurricane Gustav will affect events this week.

“We have to be flexible,” said LeeAnn Petersen, who is planning to host a baseball-themed event at the Metrodome on Thursday. “If anything, they’ll continue today and tomorrow, but cancel for later in the week.”

Still, she said, she would be willing to host her event another week should Republicans postpone their convention. “I’m worried about those people in the Gulf,” she said.

Some party planners were looking for opportunities to turn their events into fundraisers for hurricane victims.

“I think we are going to collect donations for the Red Cross at our events,” said Monica Notzon of the Republican Bellwether Group. She has several political fundraisers and receptions planned for this week. She added that the details were still being worked out.

American Event Consulting’s Rob Jennings, a planner involved in a party scheduled for Monday to benefit Friends of New Orleans, said the Louisiana entertainers scheduled to perform are “here and want to play” at that event, which Roll Call is co-sponsoring, But those musicians likely would not be able to return home after the party.

“People are talking; our event’s still on, but what we’re going to do is still up in the air,” Jennings said.

Jennings is involved with another party planned for Sunday night, a southern delegation soiree featuring rocker Sammy Hagar at Minneapolis’ First Avenue nightclub. He said that is still on.

David Norcross, a lobbyist with Blank Rome who is in the Twin Cities as a delegate and an official with the Republican National Committee, said he was still waiting to get word on any official changes to the convention itself. “They’re just looking at it day to day, hour to hour,” Norcross said. “Everyone is willing to be flexible about what gets done.”