Lawmakers beat reporters in annual spelling bee competition

Lawmakers beat reporters in annual spelling bee competition
© Cameron Hill

For the first time since 2015, lawmakers are smarter than journalists — at least when it comes to spelling.

Rep. Chris PappasChristopher (Chris) Charles PappasPelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry Lawmakers beat reporters in annual spelling bee competition The Hill's Morning Report - US coastline readies for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall MORE (D-N.H.) and his team of House Democrats bested members of the Washington press corps Tuesday night at the National Press Club’s annual Press vs. Politicians Spelling Bee.


Pappas, who once won a spelling bee at his elementary school in Manchester, N.H., prevailed over Politico’s Eric Geller by correctly spelling "beckmesser."

The New Hampshire Democrat was modest in his remarks after being crowned champion.

“Obviously, there’s the luck of the draw at work here,” he said in a brief interview. “There were tough words that folks were getting that there was no way I knew.”

The annual event saw six House Democrats — including 2015 champion Rep. Don Beyer (Va.) — face off against seven journalists from six different media outlets in a good-natured rivalry.

Proceeds from the competition benefit the National Press Club’s nonprofit Journalism Institute, which provides scholarships to train young journalists.

In the six years since the spelling bee’s revival — it has its roots in a 1913 event at the press club — each team has claimed three victories.

National Press Club President Alison Kodjak, a contestant in last year's competition, kicked off the festivities by telling audience members they will soon find out “who’s really smarter: our elected officials, or the journalists who write about them.”

“I’m pretty sure we all know the answer,” she joked.

On the lawmaker side was three-time competitor Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinEx-Trump aide on Russia testifies for 10 hours as part of impeachment inquiry Oversight panel to subpoena Trump officials next week over deportation deferrals Democrats plow ahead as Trump seeks to hobble impeachment effort MORE (Md.), who earlier in the day participated in former Trump campaign aide Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiLewandowski told by Fox Business host he was being 'a little slurry' during interview The Hill's Morning Report - New impeachment battle: Pompeo vs. House Dems Lewandowski: 'Fair' to say Senate run might not happen MORE’s contentious hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

“Well, I had a lot more fun at the spelling bee than I did at the Lewandowski testimony,” Raskin said in a brief interview.

During the competition, the former constitutional law professor was asked to spell “jurisprudence.”

“This is a beautiful word,” Raskin quipped.

Freshman Reps. Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn WextonCarson defends transgender comments, hits media for 'mischaracterizations' Ben Carson's remarks during San Francisco visit spark backlash Democrats blast HUD for removing LGBT language from grant competition MORE (Va.), Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillLawmakers beat reporters in annual spelling bee competition Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Polling director: Young voters swayed by health care, economy, gun control MORE (Calif.) and Deb HaalandDebra HaalandUS should oppose expansion of space launch center in Brazil Overnight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists Coalition of farmers and ranchers endorses Green New Deal MORE (N.M.) rounded out the lawmaker team.

The team of journalists was represented by Geller, 2018 champion Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post, her colleague Josh Dawsey, Daniella Cheslow of WAMU, Roll Call’s John Donnelly, Zoe Tillman of BuzzFeed News and The Hill’s Alex Gangitano.

Geller correctly spelled "etesian" and "chupacabra" but was tripped up by "noctidiurnal."

Pappas said he looks forward to defending his title at next year's competition, which will break the 3-3 tie.

“My term’s not up so I’ll be able to come back next year, right? Although we’ll sort of be in the throes of the election, so we’ll have to carve some time out for it to defend it,” he said.