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Inauguration excites Georgia lawmakers -- well, most of them

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration promises to be a star-studded affair and lawmakers plan on putting aside partisan differences to join in the festivities.

Well ... most of them anyway.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Grantville., plans on staying in the state and will head up to Washington on Wednesday to participate in scheduled House votes.

"He's a Republican and this is a Democratic -- with a lowercase 'p' -- party function," said Brian Robinson, Westmoreland's spokesman. "Plus it's going to be 10 degrees and crowded. (Westmoreland) is not a huge pomp and circumstance kind of guy anyway. Put him in a field with a gun at a turkey shoot and he'll be good to go. If Obama had a turkey shoot Lynn would be there."

While it's not exactly a turkey shoot, the Georgia State Society Inaugural Gala at the Smithsonian National Museum of National History on Monday night will feature plenty of regional cuisine and music.

Members of the state's congressional delegation including Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, the society's chairman, will dance to live entertainment and sample from a menu that include peanuts, pecans, Vidalia onions and peaches.

Lawmakers will need to eat heartily since, like the millions of people expected to attend next week's inauguration, members of Congress will have to weather frigid temperatures, bumper-to-bumper traffic and record-setting crowds.

Still, lawmakers say this moment in history is one that resonates with all Americans, regardless of party.

"The inauguration of President Obama will be one of the most significant moments in our nation's history," Chambliss said. "Importantly, it will be wonderful to witness the number of people from around the nation who have engaged in the political process."

Congressional staffers will distribute tickets to constituents on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday both senators, Bishop and Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Macon, plan on attending the inauguration ceremony and are looking forward to watching the South Cobb High School Blue Eagle marching band participate in the inaugural parade.

"This is a historic occasion for our country with a variety of events to make it a memorable time for the thousands of Georgians who will be here to witness it," Isakson said.

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