Utah Sen. Mitt Romney elected president of secret Washington group of politicians, business leaders

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Sen. Mitt Romney is shown here holding a Jan. 22, 2019, town-hall meeting at the Davis County administration building. He was just elected president of the secretive Alfalfa Club, whose members include prominent U.S. political figures.

Washington • Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is only a few weeks into his new gig here, but he’s already been voted president of a secret society of politicians, business leaders and other influential people.

The Alfalfa Club is an invitation-only group that exists essentially to hold a swanky dinner each year chock-full of speeches poking fun at its members and politics of the day.

Romney, a former presidential candidate, was inducted into the club in 2015, and it’s unclear — given the group’s off-the-record rules — how he became president only a few years later, though the honor is often given to widely known U.S. political figures. Then-Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was club president in 2011, former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg in 2017 and former Sen. and Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry of Massachusetts in 2018.

Kerry turned over the gavel to Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, on Saturday at the annual dinner, which is closed to the news media. But as always, some of the best jokes found their way out of the ballroom.

“Just think, Mitt and I are two of the only people who understand the temptation to run for office in every state where you own a home,” Kerry joked, according to Politico.

“Mitt and I do have a lot in common. Mitt has run for the presidency; I’ve run for the presidency,” Kerry added. “Mitt has represented the great state of Massachusetts; I’ve represented the great state of Massachusetts. Mitt’s running mate, Paul Ryan, went on to become speaker of the House; my running mate, John Edwards, got booted out of his house.”

Kerry hugged Romney at one point, The Washington Post said.

Romney’s office didn’t respond to questions about his new role with the Washington-based club.

It wasn’t clear if Romney spoke at the dinner. The audience included well-to-do Washington types, including current and former senior Trump administration officials.

Neither President Donald Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence attended the event.