There’s a rich tradition among politicians—both incumbents and candidates—of popping into an Irish pub for a pint with the boys. Bill and Hillary Clinton have done it, as have Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Thursday night in Georgetown Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley joined the club, merrily sipping a foam-topped brew at the official opening of the Irish pub Rí Rá. He’s certainly an incumbent, and possibly even a candidate for the 2016 presidential race, but he said he was at the pub simply to help celebrate its big night. He has certified bragging rights as Irish, after all. The pub was packed, and at one point O’Malley was shoulder-to-shoulder with two members of the Steve Miller Band.
The governor arrived on the early side, alone except for his security detail, and joined the three-deep crowd at the main bar. For a while he went largely unnoticed, until word spread of his presence. He wore a dark suit and a bright red tie, with a flag pin on his lapel. The bar’s co-owner, David Kelly, made a beeline through the crowd to greet him. Well-wishers shook his hand. He obliged anyone who wanted to take a photo. He was almost always smiling.
Word also spread that members of the Steve Miller Band had arrived, and as those kinds of photo ops tend to happen organically, O’Malley and the musicians found one another, which prompted more photos. Bass guitarist Kenny Lee Lewis and guitarist Jacob Petersen said they were in town a night early for a private Friday night gig at the Ronald Reagan Building. Was the occasion a bar mitzvah, perhaps, or a wedding? They didn’t know, but Petersen said the band just recently did their first wedding, and it was quite the experience. And they got paid? “Oh, yeah, we got paid,” he said.