Sharing a cause, campaign staffers find romance
Campaign Cupids are working overtime deep into the '08 primary season.
When Laura Capps met Bill Burton, it wasn't exactly love at first sight. As communications director for presidential hopeful John Kerry working in Iowa, she was trying to score an interview with a prominent Iowa journalist for her candidate. When she found the reporter, he was already with Mr. Burton, communications director for rival Richard Gephardt, who'd beaten her to the punch.Skip to next paragraph
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As rivals, the two campaign aides couldn't help running into each other. Burton, who'd spent considerable time in Iowa, introduced Ms. Capps, a fresh transplant from San Francisco, to the Des Moines social scene. Soon their friendship evolved into a romance. When Mr. Gephardt dropped out of the race, Burton joined Senator Kerry's campaign.
"We call Des Moines the new Paris," says Capps, who married Burton two years after Kerry lost the 2004 election. "There's a lot of campaign romance, because it's attractive to find somebody who believes in something the way you do and is as passionate about politics as you are."
For young politically motivated singles, hopping aboard the campaign train is often like joining a matchmaking service. The 12-hour-plus days bring them into close contact with hordes of like-minded people all striving toward the same goal. The intensity of the work heats up emotions and forges relationships – some that last for the long run, but many more that prompt slogans like "what happens in Iowa stays in Iowa."
"When people are passionate about politics or candidates, it's just a fine line between passion of a whole other sort," says John Hlinko, founder of ActForLove.org, a dating website for liberal activists. "If you're all united in this common campaign, this common cause, the odds are pretty good that you'd be compatible."
This Valentine's Day, with candidates in both parties still duking it out deep into the primary season, campaign Cupids are working overtime.
"You meet people you like, you sort of hang out intensely, and whatever happens happens," says a campaign staffer for Sen. John Edwards's 2008 campaign until he dropped out two weeks ago.
The staffer, who asked to remain anonymous for personal reasons, says she "hung out intensely" with one man in particular, but never imagined it would turn into a serious relationship. The romance ended with Edwards's bid for the presidency, though the two are still close.
Love, not marriage?
Long-term commitments are difficult under such circumstances, she adds.
"You don't know how long people are going to be in town, you don't know how long the campaign is going to go. You hope that it goes to the end, but the fact of the matter is you just never know."