By Betsy Rothstein - 01/30/07 12:00 AM EST
One of Chris Foster’s first acts as a summer intern for Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) could have gotten him fired.
On his very first day in the congresswoman’s office, Foster was performing a task many interns do — manning the phones. Larry King called in looking for Bono. “Son, where’s the congresswoman?” King asked.
In a fumbled attempt to put him on hold, Foster hung up on the CNN anchorman. He called back. “Mr. King wasn’t too happy about it,” Foster recalled. “But the congresswoman got a good laugh out of it.”
In a surprising turn of events, Foster was hired to run Bono’s 2000 campaign following his graduation that year from Michigan State University with a degree in political theory and constitutional democracy. “It was fairly intimidating going into it,” he said, admitting he was shocked to get the job. “I had peripheral experience. My understanding is I received the phone call before she [Bono] had been consulted.”
Bono’s seat was safe. “Let’s be honest,” Foster admits. “That’s probably why a fool like me was hired.” Though, he allowed, “It was good fortune.” Bono won her race by 59 percent.
Foster, a clean-cut 28-year old, touts his boss well. “She’s well received in most any circle,” he said, explaining her “local celebrity status. She may be a congresswoman, but she’s not the old gray-haired version.”
Bono is famously close with her late husband’s former wife, Cher. Foster said his boss is more often asked about motherhood than Cher or Sonny.
“‘How does she deal with being a mom? How does she deal with flying back and forth?’” are common questions he says constituents ask. “People are struck by the Bono name, but once you meet her she is very down-to-earth.”
A native of Glasgow, Ky., Foster lived half his childhood in the Bluegrass State and half in Midland, Mich., due to his father’s career as a pilot. Now his parents divide their time between Palm Desert, Calif., the congresswoman’s district, and Anchorage, Alaska.
Life was slow in Glasgow, a tobacco town of 12,000 residents. Foster remembers amusing himself by running around in fields. “It was the perfect place to be,” he said.
After Bono won her race, Foster had planned to go to law school. Instead, he came to Washington to work for Bono.
In 2003 he moved on to the Resources Committee, where he worked for two and a half years before recently returning to Bono’s office as her legislative director and deputy chief of staff.
Foster believes with the congresswoman’s bipartisan approach he can feel better about working in the minority.
Foster’s after-work haunts include Local 16, Top of the Hill and the new Clydes in Chinatown.
Bono’s new LC felt a ‘calling’ for her job
Amy Ingham, 24, is a new legislative correspondent for Bono. Born in Concord, Calif., and raised in Palm Springs, Ingham is ecstatic to be working for the lawmaker who represents her family and many of her friends.
One difficult aspect about Washington for her is the weather. “In the wintertime it gets cold,” she said, shivering, explaining that her teeth-chattering starts at the first hint of fall. She speaks of Palm Springs affectionately, saying, “I could always play outside as a child. It gets very hot there.” It helped that the family had a swimming pool in the backyard.
Ingham, an articulate young woman, wasn’t raised in a politically involved family. Her father was a political science major at the University of California at Berkeley. He read the newspaper cover to cover, but didn’t try to sway her politically one way or another.
“To be honest,” she said, “I’m very passionate about cooking. I’ve always wanted to open up a caf� or a restaurant.”
To that end, she majored in marketing at San Diego State University. That dream, however, is a ways off — perhaps when she’s older and has a family.
These days, she’s content to cut her teeth on politics. Ingham first came to Washington in January 2006 to intern for Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), then gained a paid position as assistant to the chief of staff. In May 2006 she went to work as a staff assistant for the Small Business Committee.
In November of last year she felt the urge to move again. She noticed a legislative correspondent position on the House posting board: “I was looking for my next opportunity,” she said.
She felt Bono’s office was a good fit. “I care about the community,” Ingham said. “I felt like it was calling me, that it had to be for me. I’m not trying to sound hokey, but I felt like I needed to apply for it.”