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The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City will be the home for nearly 3,000 Pennsylvania politicians, union officials, healthcare, banking and energy industry leaders and their families who will be on hand beginning Friday to celebrate the 118th straight year of the famed Pennsylvania Society.

It is a marathon of 48 events held within two days, primarily within the sumptuous halls of the Gilded Age hotel, where attendees can find politicians hosting events as either a thank you for winning a tough election or hint they are seeking another office.

And it’s also a place where industry leaders share drinks at the mahogany bar at the Bull and Bear well into the night as deals are made or relationships developed over libations, outside the scrutiny of the public.

“Politics will rule all of the conversations this weekend, not just because of what the Republicans pulled off in the state, but because of what it all means for the Democrats who will have to seek re-election in 2018,” said John Fetterman. Fetterman is the colorful 6’5″ Democratic mayor of Braddock in Southwestern Pennsylvania who stunned the establishment when he gave the failed candidate for U.S. Senate, Katie McGinty, a run for her money in last year’s primary.

Fetterman said the event was also an opportunity for a mayor of small steel town like his to talk with important stakeholders like Republican Bill Schuster who chairs the powerful transportation committee, which could possibly help his distressed city with infrastructure or waterway projects.

The state’s two top Democrats’ Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey will face an entirely different electorate than they did in their last races; Wolfe won handily over incumbent Republican Tom Corbett in 2014 with Casey pulling a similar feat over the late Tom Smith in 2012.

Wolf will be a no-show at the receptions and parties planned for this weekend, but Casey’s spokesman says the Scranton Democrat does plan to attend.

“Nobody in my party will be taking anything for granted,” said Mike Mikus who served as McGinty’s senior strategist in the November election, “While Hillary was able to turn out similar numbers to Barack Obama in Philadelphia and the [surrounding] collar counties, the rest of the state’s turnout was historically high for a Republican,” he said.

What many analysts missed going into 2016 was how far Pennsylvania voters have moved away from the Democratic Party candidates in presidential elections since 1996, when Bill Clinton won reelection over Republican Bob Dole. That year Clinton won 28 out of the state’s 67 counties, in 2012 Barack Obama was down to 13 of the 67 counties, moving the state 0.4 percent more favorable to Republicans every four years.

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“This year Clinton only won 11 counties. That is something that will give Democrats pause for 2018 and Republicans a window to seize to possibly win those two state-wide seats,” said Charlie Gerow, a Republican media consultant who will be hosting an invitation-only luncheon this year for his media firm Quantum Communications at the Union League.

“No Democrat should consider themselves safe or a lock,” said Fetterman.

Several Republicans have said they are considering running for the governor’s office or for the U.S. Senate, including state Sen. Scott Wagner, who is eyeing the governor’s race.

Wagner told the Examiner he is “seriously considering” making that run. He points to the Pennsylvania Senate super-majority that he helped engineer as proof he knows how to win tough elections.

Under Wagner’s work this cycle as chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Campaign Committee, he flipped three Democratic seats Republican and handed the state GOP its first super-majority in modern political history.

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Wagner is more a bolt of lightning than a rising star in Pennsylvania Republican politics, the charismatic entrepreneur won his seat two years ago against the state party-backed candidate in a special election with a write-in campaign; he will be holding a reception across the street from the Waldorf Friday evening.

Rep. Mike Kelly, a Butler County Republican who will also be attending this weekend said he was considering a run for governor. “No decision has been made there are a lot of factors to put in place.”

Another talented, charismatic politician, Kelly enjoys the deep traditions associated with the Waldorf event, “When you think of the captains of industry and presidents who have walked the grand staircases of the hotel you get a feeling of nostalgia for all of the deals made during this event.”

Rep. Pat Meehan, a Delaware County Republican, indicated this week he was considering challenging Casey for his senate seat, making him the first Republican to emerge as a possible senate challenger.

The event has been a place to escape the state and meet on neutral ground after the elections since 1899, when historian James Barr invited 55 fellow Pennsylvania natives to a dinner at Waldorf where the attendees christened themselves, “The Pennsylvania Society of New York.”

By the time they scheduled the event for the next year, word had spread and Pennsylvania captains of industry, politicians and their families were boarding trains from across the state to attend the 1900 soiree that ended with a dinner speech given by a young Winston Churchill, a speech that convinced the members to hereafter have a guest speaker at the final dinner.

Since then, luminaries such as Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, J. Edgar Hoover, Fred Rogers, Arnold Palmer, George H.W. Bush, Joe Biden and former Philadelphia Gov. Ed Rendell have all served as the Society’s guest speaker.

It was at last year’s fundraiser for the state party Republicans that then-primary candidate Donald J. Trump, one of 17 at the time, spoke at the party’s annual Commonwealth Club fundraiser.

“No other Republican candidate was interested in attending, I think because they didn’t think Pennsylvania was a state they could ever win,” said Rob Gleason, the state GOP party chair who arranged what was then a controversial move.

“At that time no one gave Trump much of a chance,” said Gerow, adding, “Now he is the man who broke a 28-year tradition of Democrats winning [Pennsylvania]. If that was turned on its head, what about the tradition that presidents tend to lose seats in their midterms?”

Wolf’s absence at the event will likely give the former state party chairman Jim Burn the opportunity to explore with attendees his threat to challenge the incumbent Democratic governor in the party primary.

The current Democratic state party chair Marcel Groen, whose party lost the two big races — president and U.S. Senate — as well as saw its minorities in the state chambers shrink to historic numbers, will also be on hand.

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