SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Shepherdstown swirled with rumors Wednesday morning as a Congressional motorcade arrived at the Bavarian Inn and Capitol Police set up a security perimeter.
It was soon reported that Senate Democrats had selected the site for their annual retreat, a chance to come together and strategize for the 115th Congress.
Christian Asam, owner of the Bavarian, said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) reached out to them shortly after the November Election about the possibility.
Asam said security has been tight even before the retreat got underway Wednesday.
“They [Capitol Police] came and did site visits several times over the last several weeks,” Asam said.
The entire property had essentially been on lockdown since lawmakers arrived.
“Even us as staff, we have to show our ID’s and name tags to get on,” Asam said. “Sometimes they have dogs that sniff our cars and things like that.”
Still, he said it’s been great for Shepherdstown, with many lower profile Senators utilizing the recreational space and spending time in local shops and restaurants.
Of course some big names like former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) are drawing the attention from supporters in town and at nearby Shepherd University.
Asam said it has been a great experience seeing some of the Senators relaxing at the hotel.
“You see everyone on TV and they seem very political and when they’re here in West Virginia they’re in their blue jeans, some of them, and just relaxed and ready to get some work done.”
The first day of the retreat reportedly targeted two things: how President Donald Trump beat them in 2016, and how Democrats can secure at least some of his voters for the midterms.
Sen. Manchin moderated a panel of his home state residents who voted for Trump — an effort to dig into their motivations, and, according to one source, try and figure out the best path forward to get them back.
The schedule Thursday was scheduled to be more focused on the Congressional battles ahead, from the looming legislative agenda to how to deal with Trump’s Supreme Court nomination, which the President said would be announced next Thursday.
Several hundred people are participating in a rally outside the Bavarian being organized by the Women’s march on Washington – West Virginia.
Republicans are in Philadelphia for their annual retreat.