by Max Brantley
Word to the wise: If you want a table at lunch at the Capital Bar, go early, like 11:30 a.m.
It was hard to tally all the familiar faces in the hotel at the noon hour today.
Pulaski County Republican Women, and Republican female legislators from afar, were gathering in a private room for a Christmas lunch with the likes of Tim Griffin and Bill Vickery. And was that Gilbert Baker headed in that direction, too? David Sanders and Stanley Reed strolled in just after I left, a spy reports.
The House leadership team -- Wills, Massanelli, Stovall, etc. -- made one of its frequent appearances.
A group of conservative Republicans lunched in the bar itself. Kim Hanke had to break away from a conversation with me to join his party for grace. He's still coy about future political plans. He's not ready to say, for example, if re-election to Saline Quorum Court is definitely in his plans for next year. I still think he'd like to run for lieutenant governor. I still think a Bill Halter race for U.S. Senate is the key to a lot of people's plans. Conservative Republicans bad want him to run, I can tell you that.
I also know this for a fact: Capital food is good. Wednesday is fried chicken day. It's crunchy good and comes with homemade potato salad and green beans. Seafood gumbo is good any day. They also fry oysters right here and serve them on the cottony po boy loaves from Leidenheimer's in New Orleans. The burger is about three fistfuls, a problem since most of us have only two. I'm a fan, you might have figured. Even if the Repubs had me outnumbered today.