So what’s Connolly’s game plan?

“I’m a very visual person, so I see words so I can spell them out,” he reveals. Connolly’s communications director, George Burke, tells ITK, “Contestants, beware,” because his boss is the real deal.

ADVERTISEMENT
Burke says Connolly will “hold his own in the spelling bee,” and his spelling prowess is on display even when a bee championship title isn’t on the line. Calling him a “voracious reader” who spots grammatical errors in documents prepared by his staff and in news articles, Burke admits, “I occasionally have to go to the dictionary to determine the meaning of an arcane word he inserts into a statement.”

“All I can say is: [Sen.] Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House Flake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense MORE [R-Ariz.], look out,” Connolly tells us with a hearty laugh.

Flake, another one of the nine congressional participants in the bee, appears to be taking a much more laid-back approach.

“I’m just going to bee myself,” he said in an email.

Other lawmakers slated to compete include: Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), along with Sens. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsA Department of Energy foundation: An idea whose time has come We must reconcile privacy and safety in the digital era Protecting intellectual property in America is harder than ever MORE (D-Del.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSenate campaign fundraising reports roll in Afghanistan moves reignite war authorization debate Ralph Northam sworn in as Virginia governor MORE (D-Va.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Senate campaign fundraising reports roll in Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (D-Conn.).

But Connolly says the Beltway reporters — including The Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman, CBS News’ Major Garret, and Fox News Channel’s Ed Henry, among others — are really the ones who will have to start studying their Merriam-Webster dictionaries: “We have to remind our colleagues in the press that there are no copy editors in the spelling bee.”