Columbia man enthusiastic to attend Obama's second inauguration

Sunday, January 20, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:57 p.m. CST, Monday, January 21, 2013

COLUMBIA — Arthur Nunn, an optical manager at Sam's Club in Columbia, flew to Washington, D.C., on Friday morning, his first time on a plane.

But there is something more exciting for him in Washington, D.C. — he is going to attend President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

He found out in December that he will receive a ticket to the inauguration from Sen. Claire McCaskill's office. 

When he found out that his friend, Lori Dougherty, received two tickets from McCaskill, he was stunned. 

"First, I didn't believe her. I thought she was joking," he said.

The two left Columbia at 3:30 a.m. Friday with plans to go to McCaskill's office to pick up the tickets.

Obama's inauguration in 2009 had the largest attendance of any event, 1.8 million people, in the history of Washington, D.C. However, local officials are expecting about half of the crowd of the last inauguration — 600,000 to 800,000 people, according to an Associated Press article. 

Tickets are free, but are allocated by senators and members of the House of Representatives. 

The swearing-in ceremony, which starts shortly before noon EST, consists of the presidential and vice presidential oaths of office and inaugural address. Musicians James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and several choir groups will perform. Beyonce will close the inauguration ceremony with the National Anthem. 

A total of 250,000 tickets were distributed to House members Wednesday and to Senate members on the following day by the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, according to a news release by Sen. Charles Schumer, D- New York, the chairman of the committee. 

The members of office were responsible for distributing the tickets to their constituents. People were able to make requests to their senators and representatives.

After the tickets were beginning to be distributed to constituents, scalped tickets were sold on the Internet for thousands of dollars, according to a Jan. 17 news release from the senator said. With the request by the senator, eBay and Craigslist agreed to prevent the sale of tickets. 

"This year's Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies are not for sale," Schumer said in the release. "eBay and Craigslist are doing the right thing in stopping the sale of scalped tickets to one of our nation's most sacred events."

As of Saturday, however, tickets were still listed on eBay for as high as $500.

McCaskill's office received requests from all over the state and provided tickets to hundreds of Missourians through a lottery, according to a statement.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican who started representing Boone County on Jan. 3 after redistricting and the November election, was able to meet all requests for tickets, said Steve Walsh, the press secretary for the office.

There were a few phone calls in the week of the presidential election, but it was in January when people started making requests, Walsh said.

In the beginning of January, Hartzler's office only had about 30 requests, but now all the tickets have been claimed, Walsh said.

Since Hartzler started representing Boone County on Jan. 3, the office members could not officially guarantee requests from Boone County residents until taking over, Walsh said. But, he said, they knew they would be able to accommodate them. 

About one-forth of the total tickets were allocated to residents of Boone County, including a group of about 30 students from MU, Walsh said.

Rep. Sam Graves, a Republican who represents District 6, received 177 tickets from the inaugural committee, but only about 150 were requested, said Jason Klindt, Graves' communication director.

Klindt said demand for tickets dropped dramatically since Obama's first inauguration. The inauguration in 2009 had three to four times higher demand than this year's, he said.

The remaining tickets were given to other officeholders in Missouri, Klindt said.

"This year, the inauguration is like business," said Homer Page, the chairman of Boone County Democratic Central Committee.

He said enthusiasm for the inauguration had dropped significantly compared with 2009.

"In 2008, we were creating history — it was the first time inaugurating an African-American president," Page said. "There were so much pride and expectation after years of war and misguided direction that we were going to the right direction."

However, Page said the situation has changed in the last four years.

"People were excited to change," he said. "I think now, people realized that change is difficult. ... It's a hard, hard thing to change." 

The day of the ceremony makes this inauguration stand out. Obama's inauguration will be the second swearing-in to take place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"Martin Luther King Jr. Day is about deeper concerns for justice and economic quality," Page said. "That's what the inauguration and the president are emphasizing— it's a rededication to those values."

Nunn considers himself a "huge supporter" of Obama. During the 2008 presidential election, he participated in door-to-door campaigning and phone banking in Randolph County. 

"He relates to the working class — I relate to his enthusiasm," he said. "His youthfulness and his enthusiasm makes us more optimistic. "

In 2009, Nunn watched the inauguration at a friend's house. There were 15 or 20 people, who all volunteered for the Obama campaign. 

"It was nice to sit down and enjoy what we have accomplished," he said. 

This year, after Obama's reelection, he started discussing about going to the inauguration with Dougherty. When they found out Dec. 21 that they had tickets, they started planning their trip. They purchased their plane tickets Dec. 26 and found a place to stay on Craigslist. 

"I am excited to be a part of the historic moment," Nunn said.

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Tracy Greever-Rice January 21, 2013 | 12:29 p.m.

'Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican who started representing Boone County on Jan. 3 after redistricting and the November election...'

Aw, the spoils of gerrymandering. The majority of voices, ideas, ideals, and values of Boone County shut out of electoral politics for at least a decade. Our next shot at representation won't come until 2020.

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