No Irish beer in Peterson’s office

Even though she was raised in Towanda, Pa., Samantha Barrett, 23, found herself crossing the Atlantic to take a job as district scheduler for Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.).

She spent spring semester of her sophomore year interning for a member of the Irish Parliament, where, apparently, floor debates are much more entertaining.

“People get up and yell,” she said. The Irish Parliament also provides members with one amenity not available in the Capitol: a bar adjoining the floor. Perhaps they need a dram to soothe vocal cords and egos after all that shouting. Barrett expressed doubt that a row of taps would be installed off the House floor anytime soon.

Barrett spoke quickly, drumming the table with her finger. She graduated from the University of Scranton at the end of May and started work on the Hill two weeks ago, but she rattles off her opinions and aspirations without hesitation. Though she grew up on a dairy farm, she has an international outlook — she names the European Union as a key area of interest.
In high school she studied in Poland. So: Where to next?

“I wanna be here for a while,” she said. She said she has no designs to mount a campaign of her own, even in the distant future: “I did that in college and I don’t want to do it again. I didn’t like the political games.”

But running, generally, is something she does enjoy. She often finds herself jogging in the dark in the early hours of the morning through some “sketchy” neighborhoods. In September she plans to run a marathon.

Travis Windle, 24, just finished a marathon of his own. He recently received his master’s degree in American government from Johns Hopkins University, which he completed while working. He joined Peterson’s office in March as press secretary. He’s a native of Beaver, Pa.

Windle arrived on the Hill from a political appointment at the Commerce Department. In November he lost his job with former Rep. Melissa Hart’s (R-Pa.) office when her reelection bid failed. But Windle couldn’t leave politics behind.

“Politics is what makes me burn,” he said.

During his time at Hart’s office, he took leave to work as the Southwest field director for the Republican State Committee.
He took his parents — his father, a dentist, and his mother, a dental hygienist in the same office — along to rallies and fundraisers. During the last week of the campaign, he said his house was a “campaign hotel” where six fellow workers camped out and ate his mom’s Italian food.

After long days on the Hill, Windle ventures out to play football, which he played at Johns Hopkins. In the future he wants to do more “behind-the-scenes” work, he said, maybe as a counsel.

Meanwhile, in Sen. Kent Conrad’s (D-N.D.) office, Chief of Staff Bob Van Heuvelen has stepped down and Conrad’s former aide and longtime friend Wally Rustad is coming out of retirement to take the spot until a permanent replacement is found.
Rustad retired from Conrad’s office in 2005, and reportedly was approaching the fourth tee on the golf course when his phone rang with the request to return.

Rustad has been around the Hill a long time. Before his election to the Senate, Conrad was his intern on the Hill, working in the capacity of a congressional aide.