WASHINGTON – Richard Kane has a different kind of decision to make than most in the aftermath of the presidential election — for him it’s a choice between sedans or limousines.
Kane is vice president of International Limousine, one of a number of Maryland businesses that stands to gain from the inauguration activities that will hit Washington on Jan. 20.
The delay in the election outcome means a delay in determining what kind of vehicles his business will need to have on hand for inaugural guests — sedans for Democrats, limousines for Republicans.
“We do not know what kind of business we are going to get because the election is undecided,” said Kane. Neither do Republican and Democratic party officials who would normally be planning inaugural festivities by now, he said.
“They are all kind of waiting for a decision,” Kane said, almost two weeks after Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush finished the presidential race in a virtual tie that is still being sorted out.
Some Maryland businesses are not waiting for the outcome of the election to begin preparing for Inauguration Day. Mark Brady, general manager of Ace Limousines in College Park, said he has already lined up 25 extra limos and enough drivers for the inauguration of the next president, whoever he will be.
Brady and others said that their expected inaugural business will not been hurt by the election delay, although some said it is mildly inconvenient.
For Bradley Colton, general manager of the Bethesda Marriott, the delay means less cash up front. He said that hotels often require deposits to reserve party space and he thinks fewer event planners are placing deposits because of the uncertainty.
But Colton and other Maryland businesspeople know one thing for sure: A Bush inauguration will likely mean more customers.
“If the same party stays in, there just won’t be the same volume of business,” said Gloria Freihage, director of sales and marketing for the American Inn of Bethesda. “If there is a new party that comes in, the hotels in the suburbs will get more business….We do get the overflow from downtown.”
Kelly Groff, executive director of Conference and Visitors Bureau of Montgomery County, agreed that a “change in the party will be a bigger impact in this region.”
“If there is a continuation of the administration, from the Democratic standpoint, then the impact won’t be as great,” she said.
Earl Hargrove, whose Lanham decorating and convention exhibit company has worked on every inauguration since 1949, said there is a simple reason that Republicans will have bigger inaugural festivities. They will just be happy to be back in the White House.
“We know that the Bush camp is going to do a tremendous celebration because they have been out of power for eight years,” said Hargrove. “With Gore, he will certainly celebrate, but there might be less celebration.”
Brady did not think that a larger Bush bash could be attributed to the party’s political success. He said the Republicans simply like to party more.
“We understand that the Republicans do throw bigger parties,” said Brady.
“When the Republicans and the Democrats had their fund raisers in town, we had our whole fleet of limousines out for the Republicans and we didn’t even send one for the Democrats,” he said. “I think that is evidence that the Republicans use more limos.”