Look out, Clinton — there’s a new HRC on the Hill

Hillary Caron, one of Rep. Steve Israel’s (D-N.Y.) new staff assistants, has presidential politics in her blood.

With Rachel as her middle name, Caron’s initials are HRC, the same as presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.). She worked for a year on former Democratic Sen. John Edwards’s (N.C.) presidential campaign after interning in presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) office.

Her name provided comic relief when doing fieldwork for Edwards in New Hampshire.

“When I’d have to introduce myself, ‘Hi, this is Hillary with John Edwards’ … people would laugh every day,” she says.

She has yet to let the other Hillary on Capitol Hill know that they share the same initials. “I met [Clinton] once when I was an intern, but I didn’t have long enough to tell her how cool it was that we have the same initials,” Caron says. “But I’m sure she’d be very excited to learn that.”

The 22-year-old Duke University graduate left the Edwards campaign after the New Hampshire primary in January, took time off, and joined Israel’s office in March, around the same time her colleague Scott Wetzel was promoted from staff assistant to legislative correspondent and scheduler.

Wetzel, 26, interned with Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) before joining Israel’s office in October. After his 2005 graduation from Dickinson College, he was an AmeriCorps volunteer at a community center near his hometown of Selinsgrove in central Pennsylvania. There he helped run an after-school program for children and got his first dose of local politics.

He did a lot of work with “town leaders, people from the region, local figures” to help run the community-center programs, he says.

Caron and Wetzel are both adjusting to new roles in Israel’s office. Caron is in charge of driving her boss to his appointments and meetings. They rush around Washington in her Hyundai.

“It makes me a little nervous sometimes,” she admits. “[Israel] wants me to be a more aggressive driver, so that’s what I’m working on,” she adds, laughing. “I didn’t study that in school.”

Wetzel spends his days sorting through office mail and making certain the congressman’s schedule runs smoothly.

“For me, it’s always knowing where he’s at, making sure he gets to the next meeting, that sort of thing,” he says.

Wetzel studied abroad in London and the United Arab Emirates while in college, and that experience awakened in him an interest in international relations. He thinks he’d eventually like to work in that field, at either a nonprofit organization or the State Department.

Caron is contemplating law school but sees herself working on the Hill for a while, focusing on socioeconomic inequalities, healthcare and middle-class issues.

She’s also just getting back into her hobbies — jazz dancing and wall climbing among them — after working 14-hour days, seven days a week on the presidential campaign trail.

Wetzel joined a whiffle ball team in March and has been enjoying the league’s vigorous competition.

“I love it,” he says. “It is a lot of fun.”