Lungren promotes adventure, hires stealth

Rep. Dan Lungren’s (R-Calif.) new staff assistant may look small, but she packs a dangerous punch. And her predecessor, who was promoted to legislative correspondent, has an appetite for adventure.

Under her mild-mannered, 5-foot-4-inch exterior, 22-year-old staff assistant Annelise Guisinger conceals a year of training in Krav Maga, the Israeli discipline of hand-to-hand combat that relies mostly on stealth.

Guisinger discovered Krav Maga in a self-defense class she took in junior college. Afterward, she continued her studies for another year in a Krav Maga studio. She said Krav Maga is “a lot more cut-throat” than other self-defense disciplines. While it attempts to incorporate the best maneuvers from a variety of martial arts, “it doesn’t have the same rules because it’s just about survival.”

All secret fighting abilities aside, Guisinger said she really enjoys knitting, which relaxes her, and reading. If let loose in a library without time constraints, she said she would head straight to the theology section, then political science, and finish in the history shelves. While she has no concrete plans for the future, she said she sees herself eventually working for civil or human rights causes.

“It’s so important that we do what we can to establish justice in the ways that are available to us,” Guisinger said.

Originally from Tucson, Ariz., Guisinger returns to Capitol Hill after working as an intern for Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) last spring. She graduated from Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., with a degree in political science, and says she especially enjoys giving congressional tours to constituents who know their history.

Guisinger replaced Jonathan Strong, a Clifton, Va., native who was promoted to legislative correspondent after working as staff assistant for 11 months. At age 24, he has big plans, thanks to his adventurous nature and political acumen. Sometime in the next 10 to 15 years, he says, he plans to learn to sail and then voyage around the South Pacific, if not across the entire ocean, in a sailboat.

Strong spent the summer of 2006 mountaineering through Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, where he made a premature attempt on a snowy face.

“I started climbing the snow before I really knew what I was doing,” he said. “I fell and slid down and couldn’t stop myself. … I got into a situation over my head.”

An article he wrote about his experience will appear in the fall issue of Doublethink magazine.

“It was the beginning of a journey where I realized my own limits,” he said. “The freedom to choose well is one definition of liberty, and that’s what I find when I’m in the midst of an adventure.”

Strong earned a political science degree from Wheaton College in 2006. He said he enjoys working on Capitol Hill among so many interesting young people and charismatic lawmakers.

“Working for Congressman Lungren is great — he’s a great boss to work for, and I love my job,” Strong said. “But come 2011, I’m out of here.”

While watching Gen. David Petraeus deliver his Iraq progress report to members of Congress, Strong said, he was so impressed that he went home and immediately registered the domain name Petraeus2012.com, with the hope that the top commander in Iraq will run for president. But Strong said he will gladly continue drafting responses to constituent mail and assisting Lungren on matters of defense, military, Social Security and healthcare until he gets word of the general’s plans for 2012.