50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill 2008 - Top 10


We welcome you to the fifth anniversary issue of the 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill.

With more beautiful people nominees than ever before, making choices was a wrenching and angst-filled process. Thanks to all that participated and we are happy to introduce The Hill's Top 10 beautiful people on Capitol Hill.

*Photos by Benjamin J. Myers unless otherwise indicated

 1. Statuesque beauty

Name: Tulani Elisa
Age: 24
Hometown:
Boston
Political party:
Democrat.
Dating status:
"Happily single"

She's striking - and accident-prone.

Three weeks ago, Tulani Elisa, a legislative assistant for Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), fell down while going up the Metro escalator that leads into Dupont Circle. She ripped open her knee and had to return to the train with blood gushing out of it.

"I'm very clumsy," she says during an afternoon chat last week in the Longworth Cafeteria.

True to her word, when she was 12 she rode the train alone with her friends for the first time and got hit by a car. The car hit her ankle. Not wanting to make a big deal out of it, she went on her way and tried to ignore the pain. But soon she saw her ankle dangling off the bone and was immediately rushed to the hospital, where she got a growth plate and a cast up to her hip that she wore for a month.

Other injuries: a chipped tooth, a broken toe, a sprained shoulder.

But there are comforting things about her. Her name in Swahili means "one who is comforting." Her mother named her that because she was her first child.

This 5-foot-9 beauty has never modeled, but men often approach her and spontaneously tell her she's beautiful. One line she has received: "Are you America's next top model?"

Elisa says it's "very flattering" to have people think she is pretty enough to model, but, she says knowingly, "I'm very clumsy to be a model."

- By Betsy Rothstein


 2. The girl next door 

Name: Brecke Latham
Age:
28
Hometown: See explanation below
Political party: Republican
Dating status: Single

Brecke Latham grew up everywhere and nowhere.

With her father a pilot in the Air Force, she lived in Japan, Virginia, Alaska, South Carolina and Texas. Where was she born? Las Vegas.

Early on, her father, with no sons, nicknamed her "Bob."

With stick-straight, long blond hair that matches her outfit of a yellow- and white-striped seersucker suit, Latham is poised and elegant.

For much of her life she was a cheerleader - first in middle school, then in high school. She reasons, "It was the best way to reestablish my life every time we moved. It would always launch me into new friendships."

As far as the opposite sex is concerned, Latham prefers men who are somewhat off the beaten path. "I think I tend to guard myself from men who talk a big game up front," she says. "Sooner or later you [might] find out there's not much underneath."

Latham says she is looking for a "diamond in the rough."

In the bar scene she is more focused on friends than meeting strangers. "I'd rather have a really good conversation than go around and see how many people I can meet," she says, adding, "There really are some decent guys up here."

For any potential suitor, Latham enjoys visiting the Sculpture Garden to listen to jazz or hitting one of the city's beautiful parks. She says she would date a Democrat if she met the right one.

"I believe you can cross party lines for friendship and legislation," she says.

- By Betsy Rothstein



 3. Love blooms at Olive Garden

Name: Roy Zimmerman
Age: 28
Hometown: Port Charlotte, Fla.
Political party: Democrat
Dating status: Engaged

We first spotted Capitol Police Officer Roy Zimmerman while he was on duty inside House Majority Whip James Clyburn's (D-S.C.) office. He has been an officer on Capitol Hill since January of last year and someday wants to be a federal investigator.

While Zimmerman knows the danger of being an officer, he also says that something can happen at any time. Two weekends ago he was the victim of a hit-and-run. A car hit his car, causing $1,200 in damages, and the driver fled the scene.

Deeply tanned, Zimmerman, who grew up just a few hours north of Tampa, spent his youth at the beach playing volleyball and football. His workout regimen involves exercising three to four mornings a week, mainly doing sprints and lifting weights.

He moved to the area after Western Maryland College recruited him to play football and earned his degree in political science. Law school was a thought but it never panned out. Instead he earned his master's degree in government with a concentration in law and justice from Johns Hopkins University.

Upon graduation he went to work as a kitchen manager at Olive Garden while he awaited admission into the Capitol Police training program. While there, he met his future wife, who, at the time, was a waitress.

The couple plans to wed in February of 2009 and honeymoon in the Caribbean.

- By Betsy Rothstein



 4. The British Goddess

Name: Elizabeth Kucinich
Age: 30
Hometown: Upminster, England
Political party: "I guess I have to say Democrat."
Dating status: Married to Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)

Elizabeth Kucinich, the 6-foot wife of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), is as charming to speak with as she is beautiful.

"It's a nice thing," she says of the media focus on her beauty. "I'd rather have them discuss my beauty than that I'm ugly."

Then she puts in a plug for her intelligence. "People who get to know me know I have some brain cells knocking around as well," she says.

Still, as a teenager she spent one day visiting London modeling agencies and they all rejected her.

"It's flattering, but I don't really think of it," she says of people, such as "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart, who have gone gaga over her beauty. "It's always nice to make a favorable  impression."

How does she like being the wife of a congressman?

"I love it," she says in a pleasant British accent. "Never a dull moment."

Kucinich says she was immediately cast into the spotlight upon becoming the wife of a congressman, especially one running for president. "Yeah, completely and utterly," she says.

She noted that early on her husband warned her about the press. "If they're writing bad things about you, don't take any notice," she said, recalling his words. "If they're writing good things about you, don't take any notice."

But it seems Kucinich's favorite subject is her husband. "I always believed that I would know my husband as soon as I saw him," she says, reciting her favorite Rumi quote: "As soon as I heard my first love story I started looking for you."

That, she says, is "how I feel with Dennis."

When she first met the congressman in early May of 2005, she had never heard of him and didn't even know how to pronounce his name. "I saw him and I knew that my life had changed," she said.

By late May they were engaged. "Neither of us proposed," she says. "We say we would have married the day we met."

- By Betsy Rothstein.  Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kucinich

 

50 Most Beautiful: Connie Mack5. The late bloomer 

Name: Kwame Canty
Age: 27
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Political party: Democrat.
Dating status: Single

Growing up, Kwame Canty thought he would be a professional basketball player. But after a botched dunk attempt during his senior year of high school resulted in a broken hip, the 27-year-old left the court for good.

It wasn't until several years later when he found another calling: politics.

Canty majored in physical therapy at Hampton University, and worked as a physical therapist after graduation. But the complicated results of the 2000 presidential election caught his attention. He pursued politics and began working in one of Rep. Edolphus Towns's (D-N.Y.) field offices, a gig that led him to D.C.

Canty has never had a girlfriend.

"I was a late bloomer," he says, explaining that he wore glasses and a retainer until his senior year of high school.

But that's not to say the Omar Epps look-alike hasn't been on his fair share of dates. His favorite places to take a love interest are Charlie Palmer Steak or Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe and Grill. He's open to dating women of all political persuasions - as long as they're interested in having hearty discussions and debates on the world's problems with him - and even once fell into a brief intra-office romance.

Before any potential relationship gets too serious, though, Canty says he wants to have his career "squared away."

"I either want to be David Axelrod or Barack Obama," he says, referring to one of the Democratic presidential candidate's chief strategists and the Illinois senator himself. "If the good Lord blesses me with somebody in the meantime, then all the more blessings."

- By Kris Kitto



 6. The Tomboy 

Name: Ivy Larsen
Age: 26
Hometown: Folsom, Calif.
Political party: Republican
Dating status: Married

Ivy Larsen has a hard time thinking of herself as a beauty queen.

The 26-year old California native laughs off the idea that she's ever been the center of so much attention, but a new job in Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) office and a little assist from her new husband, who she suspects nominated her for the list, are starting to get her noticed.

"I grew up in a big family, and I definitely wasn't the beauty queen," Larsen said. "I was a tomboy. I've always been really casual, because I grew up in California - flip-flops and jeans and shorts and T-shirts are my favorite things. But moving out to D.C. is when I had to change some things."

Larsen moved to Washington three years ago to work for Human Events. Though she never thought she wanted to work on Capitol Hill, she entertained an interview with DeMint's office and hasn't looked back.

In her role as a communications adviser, Larsen is responsible for handling the senator's new-media operations. For a conservative crusader with a national following like DeMint, that's a big job.

Larson is the oldest of 10 children and has a brother who is 6 years old. She graduated from Brigham Young University. Among her favorite pastimes is going to the lake: "I'm definitely more happy when I'm outside," she says.

-  By Aaron Blake

 

 

 7. The Doll

Name: Crystal Dollins
Age: 25
Hometown: Bedford, N.H.
Political party: Republican
Dating status: In a relationship

Whatever you do, don't challenge Crystal Dollins to a double-dutch competition. The 24-year-old legislative correspondent for Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) will crush you.

"I'm really, really good at it," said Dollins, who admits that it's been a couple of years since she last jumped rope.

Dressed in a pink skirt and a pink sleeveless top, Dollins said it's the persistent running of half-marathons and eating healthy that keeps her in shape.

With her brown and blond streaked hair, her greenish hazel eyes and tanned complexion, the New Hampshire native is no stranger to getting attention from the opposite gender.

"Recently I was walking down the hallway and someone just straight-faced looked at me and said, 'You are delicious,'" said the former New Hampshire Cherry Blossom Princess.

But guys, don't bother trying, because she's already got a boyfriend, though it took a few dates with zeros to get to him.

One time a guy Dollins had met asked her out on a first date by inviting her to a wedding. She was skeptical but took a chance. As she was getting ready, the guy called and said he was running late and told her to meet him there.

"I get to the place where they were having the reception and he is 45 minutes late," she recalled. "So I was left standing in a room with total strangers for 45 minutes."

He didn't apologize and he didn't get a second date.
 
- By Jordy Yager



 8. Rapunzel, Rapunzel!

Name: Emily Zammitt
Age: 24
Hometown: West Palm Beach, Fla.
Political party: Republican
Dating status: In a relationship

When Emily Zammit gets told she looks like someone, it's never Anne Hathaway or any other Hollywood starlet.

It's usually just, "You look like someone I know," the legislative correspondent for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) says.

The only explanation she can come up with is this: "It's probably because I'm so generic looking," she says without irony. She blames her brown hair for a look that feels familiar to the masses.

In truth, Zammit could give Eva Longoria or Sarah Jessica Parker a run for their money in those hair-shaking shampoo and color-treatment commercials. Her locks pour down past her shoulders and have the fluid vitality of a waterfall.

Zammit doesn't let just anybody get their hands on that healthy thatch of hair. 

"I still get my hair cut at home," she confesses. She's gone to the same hairstylist since she was 8 and has no plans to change salons anytime soon. "I'm scared to let anyone else cut my hair."

In other areas, she's fearless. Zammit began horseback riding as a young girl. She loved it, got a grey horse she named Partly Cloudy, and eventually graduated to competitive horse jumping.

"It's an adrenaline rush," she says, recalling that the first few times doing timed-jumping trials left her winded. "My trainer used to be like, 'Breathe!' "

Zammit still has Partly Cloudy and keeps her in Gainesville, Fla., near her alma mater, the University of Florida, where she met her boyfriend of four and a half years.

She's enjoying her Washington experience but says her heart, like her horse, lives in the South. "I don't think D.C. will be permanent," she says. "I'll probably end up in Florida."

- By Kris Kitto



 9. The sentimental quarterback

Name: Rep. Gresham Barrett (S.C.)
Age: 47
Hometown: Westminster, S.C.
Political party: Republican.
Dating Status: Married

Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) is proof positive that a high school quarterback can marry his cheerleader girlfriend and live happily ever after.

"I know it's corny," he says. But "she was a cute little thing." He and Natalie dated for a year in high school and all through college before getting married in August 1984. Next year they'll celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.

Barrett learned the importance of first impressions from an early age.

"My daddy always told me you can tell a lot about a man by the way his shoes look," says the three-term Congressman. "I try to shine my shoes and keep my tie straight."

He also credits his time at The Citadel and in the Army for his consistently clean, crisp look.

These days you'll more than likely see Barrett and his aides walking around the Capitol in matching seersucker suits. He and his staff have adopted a "seersucker Wednesdays" tradition during the summer, attracting both compliments and gentle ribbing from his amused colleagues.

The congressman doesn't play much football now but boasts of his status as starting catcher for the GOP baseball team. What's puzzling to him, though, is the idea that others might find him good-looking.

"This is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me, so it's all kind of new," he says. "I'm just kind of an average guy."

- By Kris Kitto



 10. The Southern belle 

Name: Kristina Spiegel
Age: 27
Hometown: Houston
Political party: Democrat
Dating status: Single

Kristina has a warm smile, a soft handshake and perfect posture when she sits down: a Southern lady who wouldn't dare to slouch against the back of a chair.

Kristina grew up in Dallas and Houston but she speaks in a perfectly neutral accent. The only hint of her Texas origins comes when she slips "gal" or "y'all" in conversation.

She could see herself as a diplomat or even a candidate for office. She loves to travel - she studied in Florence, Italy, which she says is as different from Houston as imaginable - and has an interest in conflict resolution.

She originally thought she would like to become a behind-the-scenes player but recently has thought about serving in the political spotlight.

"I want to affect public policy but I haven't decided how I would be most effective," she said, her large blue eyes gazing out the window of the Rayburn cafeteria on a rainy morning.

Kristina has already begun to master the skill of being friendly without giving too much away. She said she likes movies but couldn't remember her favorites. She also has an interest in philosophy, especially the work of Immanuel Kant, but prefers not to explore his intricate weavings on a first date.

As for books, she just finished John Kennedy Toole's comic novel "A Confederacy of Dunces," which tickled her dry sense of humor.

Capitol Hill is her life. She lives and works on the Hill but isn't sold on the idea of dating within the corridors of power.

"It's a volatile dating market," she explains, citing frequent staff turnover and the priority that careers take over settling down.

If you want to convince her otherwise, though, you might catch her some evening at Capitol Lounge, Pour House or Kelly's Irish Times Pub. 

- By Alexander Bolton

 

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