Every Pennsylvania Society has at least one squabble that becomes the pervasive gossip of the glitzy weekend gathering of the state’s politicians held every December in Manhattan.
This year’s conflict: State Sen. Nikil Saval being barred — momentarily — from entering the late-night soiree thrown by the law firm Duane Morris at The Rainbow Room, the Art Deco ballroom and lounge with sweeping midtown views from the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center.
Saval and Duane Morris agree on one point: The Democratic-socialist from Philadelphia was eventually admitted to the party thrown by the firm, which has high-profile Democratic and Republican partners.
Saval insists he was temporarily barred from the party and threatened with ejection from the building because he signed a letter with other politicians calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.
The firm counters that Saval received an invitation but failed to reserve his spot at the party, which was already at capacity in a building with strict security about guest lists.
Alan Kessler, a partner at the firm who’s active in national Democratic politics, told Clout he intervened when he heard Saval was being kept out.
Saval arrived at the party clearly upset and quickly recounted the dispute for Clout and others. Saval then repeatedly reached out to reporters and shared his story again with several people at the big Pennsylvania Society dinner Saturday night.
Kessler, who is Jewish, said he is not a fan of Saval’s position on a ceasefire. But he noted the firm does not spend serious time and money on the party to make enemies in Harrisburg.
“Whatever happened, whatever he went through, we did everything we could to get him upstairs,” Kessler said.
Saval looped in Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa of Pittsburgh and State Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia, who served as intermediaries with the firm about his concerns.
Clout hears the Senate Democratic Caucus is arranging a meeting with the firm’s leadership to hash things out with Saval, who won his seat in 2020 and is up for reelection next year.
Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.