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K Street Files: Back on the Home Front

While much of official Washington — K Street included — has decamped to the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities, plenty of lobbyists are back in D.C. with the office to themselves.

[IMGCAP(1)]And they claim there’s actual work going on, especially because they are trying to gear up for Congress’ return next week.

“We’re starting to figure out what’s really on the agenda for September,” said Gordon Taylor, a Democratic lobbyist with Ogilvy Government Relations. “We’re hearing from clients.”

But he admitted the environment with most GOPers out of the office is “enjoyable.”

“This is what life will be like during an Obama administration — only Democrats in town,” he quipped.

Jack Quinn of Quinn Gillespie & Associates reports that the weather, in case any convention-goers are interested, is beautiful and the traffic is “almost as beautiful, what with all these people out of town.”

Some Democrats, including David Castagnetti of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, are glued to the coverage of the convention. “Everybody’s waiting for the governor to give her speech,” he said on Wednesday before Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP’s vice presidential candidate, had taken to the podium.

Others are reveling in the city’s depopulation. “The commuting is nice. There aren’t lines in Washington. It’s actually civilized,” said GolinHarris lobbyist Michael Fulton, who added that he’s been meeting with Congressional aides on Capitol Hill this week. “I’m not wearing a necktie,” he said.

Anne Urban of Venn Strategies said it feels like September. “Things are really starting to pick up,” she said.

Added Sandi Stuart, a Democrat with Clark & Weinstock: “Clients are really getting anxious about what’s going to happen in September and with the election.”

Game On. Back on Sunday, it looked as if a perennial convention favorite — a day at the home team’s ballpark — might get scrapped. But “A Day at the Metrodome,” scheduled for today, will not face a Gustav delay after all.

The event, which includes batting practice on the field where the Minnesota Twins play, will be a fundraiser for Gustav relief efforts, according to organizer LeeAnn Petersen. Any donation pledges will be matched by the Convention Baseball Group, which hosts the events at both parties’ conventions.

With the change, delegates are now welcome to attend free of charge with RSVP and credentials, she said.

And the Minnesota Twins agreed to the Gustav donations as opposed to the original plan of giving the money to the team’s community fund.

Issue Ads — Convention Style. The Travel Industry Association has spent the past two weeks of the Democratic and Republican conventions airing ads aimed at both parties’ presidential candidates, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

The message, according to the group, was to encourage the candidates to include improvements to domestic and international travel as part of their campaign messages.

The group’s president and CEO, Roger Dow, said TIA’s efforts are paying off.

When a Federal Aviation Administration system went down last week during the Democratic convention, both presidential candidates put out statements saying the system needs to be modernized.

“What they said was similar to what we’ve been sharing with them,” Dow said. “Four years ago you wouldn’t have heard about this from the presidential campaigns. But they are responding to our message.”

The group has met with McCain, and Dow said it is trying to arrange a session with Obama.

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