On the Guestlist: Northwest Leaders (and Wines) at White House State Dinners


The state of Washington continued to make its social mark in Washington, D.C., this week, as U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and wife Sara were guests at the White House State Dinner honoring new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

State dinner invites are sought after far beyond the nation’s capital. The guest list usually includes influential members of Congress, senior officials of government, major political contributors, leaders of interest groups supporting the administration, plus celebrities. Sometimes invitees double down: Carolyn Kennedy is U.S. Ambassador to Australia and attended with husband Edwin Schlossberg.

The Evergreen State has been welcomed at all four Biden State Dinners.  Two generous givers and bundlers, Microsoft President Brad Smith and Costco co-founder Jon Shirley, were on hand last December when the Bidens entertained France’s President Emmanuel Macron.

The City of Destiny was represented at a State Dinner for South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol. U.S. Rep. Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash., who is Korean American and a former Tacoma Mayor, was on the guest list along with Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards.

When India’s Prime Minister Narindra Modi hit town earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and husband labor leader Steve Williamson were on the guest list. Jayapal is an immigrant from India and chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The Northwest was well represented at the dinner for Australia’s Prime Minister Albanese. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and wife Nancy were on hand. So was Idaho Sen. Jim Risch and spouse Vicki. Adam Smith is a former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and ranking Democrat on the panel. Australia has recently entered into a major nuclear submarine deal with the United States. Risch is the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On hand, as well, Bruce Reed, a transplanted Coeur d’Alene native who is White House deputy chief of staff.

Swinomish Indian leader Brian Cladoosby, then serving as president of the National Congress of American Indians, was guest at an Obama administration State Dinner for France’s then-President Francois Hollande.

Another hat tip to Walla Walla: the Obamas served Leonetti wines from Walla Walla at one State Dinner.

Prominent Washington, D.C., journalists often make the guest list. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and Washington Post scribe David Ignatius have been recent guests. However, the Clinton Administration reached across the country to invite the late Seattle Post-Intelligencer publisher J.D. Alexander.

The event Wednesday for Albanese came on a night that subdued the festivities. President Biden was called away to confer with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Angus King (Ind., Me.) over the mass shootings at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston, Maine. 

Joel Connelly
Joel Connelly
I worked for Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1973 until it ceased print publication in 2009, and SeattlePI.com from 2009 to 6/30/2020. During that time, I wrote about 9 presidential races, 11 Canadian and British Columbia elections‎, four doomed WPPSS nuclear plants, six Washington wilderness battles, creation of two national Monuments (Hanford Reach and San Juan Islands), a 104 million acre Alaska Lands Act, plus the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments Policy

Please be respectful. No personal attacks. Your comment should add something to the topic discussion or it will not be published. All comments are reviewed before being published. Comments are the opinions of their contributors and not those of Post alley or its editors.