WASHINGTON — The Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama has generated sky-high demand for tickets as members of Congress face growing demand for a limited supply.
While the number of inaugural tickets per congressional district is yet to be determined, Chattanooga-area members say they expect their allotment to be only a few hundred each.
Sheridan Watson, spokeswoman for Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said the office has received requests from more than 17,000 individuals and groups as of last week. Most have arrived since the Nov. 4 presidential election, but one constituent got a head start by submitting a request in January 2008, she said.
* For information on events surrounding the Jan. 20 presidential swearing-in ceremony, go to http://inaugural.senate.gov/index.cfm
Sen. Isakson will decide how to distribute the tickets when his office receives them in January, Ms. Watson said.
“We believe we will have between 300 to 400 tickets to distribute,” she said.
Laura Condeluci, spokeswoman for Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said the office has “been overwhelmed by the number of requests for tickets, many more for this presidential inauguration ceremony than for any of the past three inaugurations.”
As of last week, their office had fielded more than 2,400 requests, but if past precedent is an indication, the office will receive only about 200 tickets.
Chattanooga resident Jermaine Harper said he’s on a waiting list for tickets through Rep. Wamp’s office. While he’s hopeful, he understands why Congress members are cautious in how they distribute their allotment, he said.
“There’s con artists and scalpers that are out there on eBay,” Mr. Harper said.
Already, some online brokers are advertising tickets for thousands of dollars, but officials warn consumers not to be fooled by scams.
“Any Web site or ticket broker claiming that they have inaugural tickets is simply not telling the truth,” said Howard Gantman, staff director for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. “We urge the public to view any offers of tickets for sale with great skepticism.”
The committee said tickets will be delivered to lawmaker offices a few days before the ceremony and will require in-person pickup.
The offices of Reps. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., and Nathan Deal, R-Ga., said they handled ticket requests on a first-come, first-served basis, and recipients have to be residents in their respective districts.
Spokesmen for Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both R-Tenn., said they will work with the state congressional delegation to accommodate as many Tennesseans as possible.
Staff writer Matt Wilson contributed to this story.