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Love Is in The House

Two years ago when Paige Anderson decided to leave her job as legislative director for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to try her hand in the private sector, the Golden State Congressman didn’t have to look far for her replacement.

In fact, he didn’t have to look much farther than Anderson’s front door.

“I wished her well and hired her husband,” Issa chuckled.

At the time, Mark Anderson was serving as legislative director to Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.).

This past January, the couple swapped roles again, with Paige’s husband, Mark, leaving to take a post as senior policy adviser on energy, environment, agriculture and Western issues for House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Paige returning to the Hill to reassume her position as Issa’s LD.

“I like to joke that my husband is my successor and my predecessor,” the 35-year-old California native laughed.

“I’ve never had a day when I didn’t have an Anderson in the office,” added Issa, who was elected to a second term in November.

This power couple’s relationship reads like a textbook romance.

The two met in January 1995, when both were serving as legislative assistants — she for Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and he for then-Rep. Frank Cremeans (R-Ohio) — and their bosses landed on the same Resources subcommittee on energy and mineral resources.

After their first encounter, Mark Anderson recalls being instantly hooked.

“It sounds hokey, but after the meeting I went back and told my colleagues that this was the woman I’m going to marry,” he said.

By September 1995, Mark Anderson, now 36, finally got around to asking the then-Paige Hinds out. But even after his call, Paige wasn’t exactly sure where she stood.

After hanging up the phone, she remembers wondering, “I think I’ve been asked on a date, but I’m not sure.”

At one point in their courtship, when Paige expressed some annoyance with Mark, it took the gentle chiding of a Calvert colleague to set her straight.

“I sat her down and said, ‘Don’t you dare blow this one,’” remembered Calvert’s current deputy chief of staff, Linda Ulrich.

The following year, Paige took a leave of absence from Calvert’s office to work for the 1996 Dole/Kemp presidential campaign and headed to California to serve as a field director.

Mark, a Buckeye State native, flew out to celebrate their one-year anniversary that September, and on their way back to the airport a few days later, he proposed sans diamond.

“This should serve as a lesson to guys that you don’t have to have a ring to pop the question,” cracked the one-time professional golf assistant.

Given that Dole lost his presidential bid, “that was the highlight of the campaign,” noted Paige Anderson.

After the elections, when Mark returned to California to help Paige move back to Washington, he arranged for one of her colleagues to deliver the ring to him incognito.

The co-worker met him at the airport gate decked in an overcoat and dark sunglasses.

“She gave me the ring and I went and picked up the luggage and met Paige at the front of the airport,” said Mark Anderson.

“He asked me again and I said yes again,” interjected his still beaming wife.

In typical politico fashion, their wedding — which took place the following year at St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill — revolved around the rhythms of Congress.

“The last vote was at 5:30 p.m. and we got married at 6 p.m.,” the couple recalled.

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