The problem this week for local young Republicans was party access. Most of the hot parties were for delegates, lobbyists or politicians. Which left many lowly young GOP volunteers scrambling to score invites, or just to get past security.

Andy Brehm, 28, Sen. Norm Coleman's former press secretary, had an easier time. Brehm, who got tickets for the Beach Boys and Daughtry, said the party racket is like "trading baseball cards, you see who has what."

But for those lacking invitations, access meant mastering the first rule of politics.

"It's all about who you know," said Zoe Swanson, 24, who works for a senate district in the western suburbs.

While barbecuing at former Rep. Mark Kennedy's house, Swanson and her husband scored tickets from a friend to the huge AgNite party (hosted by the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council) at the Minneapolis Depot.

Abdul Kamara, 24, played similar cards to get into AgNite -- a friend's dad is a CFO of a beef company. Kamara, the president of the University of Minnesota chapter of College Republicans, said, "We got some VIP passes. The free drinks were flowing."

Andrew Foxwell, 23, worked 15-hour days during the RNC, so finding a party became a high priority afterward. The sprightly Foxwell set his sights on GQ's soiree at the Graves: "It sounded like the coolest party out there."

When the GQ party proved out of reach, Foxwell and friends stumbled upon the Lifetime Channel's "Political Chicks a Go-Go" party at Bar-fly. They sweet-talked the doorwoman. "We told her we work on McCain's campaign [they actually do] and then I showed her my business card," Foxwell said. It reads: "Andrew Foxwell: Republican youth strategist."

"I got these printed at Kinko's for 10 bucks," he said.

On Tuesday, Foxwell got into the California delegation's Nicollet Island party. "That party was okaaay -- it wasn't bangin'," he said.

He capped off his last day of RNC work on Wednesday with a party at Seven Sushi. He knew someone who knew someone who got him on the list.

On Seven's swank rooftop -- after hours of free beer and crab cakes -- he pondered happily: "This is the life." But working long days for your party and then partying ("Three nights in a row of open bar," he said) can be exhausting. Just after 2 a.m., Foxwell was beat.

"Dude," he told his friend, "I'm tired as hell, let's go home."

Tom Horgen • 612-673-7909