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Harry Potter and the Chambers of Congress

Hogwarts Offers Metaphors for Politics on Hill

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Rep. Gerry Connolly has a tradition of hosting Harry Potter trivia for his daughter and her friends before the movies’ midnight release parties.

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Harry Potter has staked a claim on Capitol Hill.

As the eighth and final movie of the British wizarding series opens in theaters, the Hill has become increasingly crazy about Harry.

Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) plan to be first in line or at least not far behind to see the movie at the multiplex.

Countless 20-something staffers and many interns and pages are already fans, but given the older demographics of Congress, it has taken awhile for the series to catch on among Members.

For Gosar, the midnight showing of the final film would complete a long tradition of late-night Harry Potter parties.

"If I'm back home with my family, I can guarantee" to be at the midnight showing, Gosar said. "I think we've missed one just because there were sports things going on and couldn't facilitate getting there at the right time."

Before the movies, Gosar and his children prepared for the midnight book releases with ice cream and root beer floats at his parents' house. He said that childlike feeling of anticipation and excitement brought about by the books is something he never wants to forget.

"That part of life is the thing that we really need to concentrate on," he said. "If you lose the way children look through their eyes at the world, it really becomes kind of a doldrum."

And that innocent excitement is one of the things that drew Connolly to the series as well. He remembers teaching his daughter to read with the early books, and he said the passion for reading that they instilled in her and her friends is special.

The series "really got kids reading and talking about what they were reading," he said. "When's the last time a book or series of books had that kind of impact on a whole generation of people?"

Connolly also had a long-standing tradition before the midnight release parties with his daughter: Her friends would come over before midnight and play homemade Potter trivia.

"It's amazing how much the kids knew about these books," he said.

But for Hannah Loy, Gosar's staff assistant and a fellow fan, the Pottermania makes perfect sense.

Loy is a member of the generation that grew up with Potter, and for her, the love of the books is based on a feeling of affinity to the characters. She said she's been to every midnight premiere, and like most young Potterheads, she used to dress up as a witch for them.

"I get really excited" for the midnight showings, she said. "It's gonna be really hard to concentrate that Thursday, I'm sure."

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