Why did you decide to work in politics?
Actually, I was planning on being a journalist when I was in college. I interned at Meet The Press in Washington, D.C., and then realized that I was actually really partisan. I had very strong opinions and I’d rather work in government making policy. Also, it’s a tough job being a journalist.
What kinds of jobs did you do as a journalist intern?
It was pretty unglamorous. This was before the Internet was integrated with the workplace. Primarily, it was this: As soon as you confirm the guest, we would look up everything that guest ever said and then see if there were inconsistencies. We just provided [Tim Russert] with the clips on Friday. The coolest part was that the interns were in charge with escorting the guests to the green room. That was my highlight on Sunday mornings.
Was there one guest who made a big impression on you?
I was interning when the Republicans just took back control of Congress, so it was during the first 100 days of the Gingrich revolution. I enjoyed meeting Jack Kemp. What was actually a really strange impression for me was when we interviewed Dan Quayle, and how mad he got afterward. Same with Senator Phil Gramm. They were very upset.
Did they take it out on the interns?
No. They just came out saying, “What kind of questions are these?” For a 19 year old like me, this was really exciting.
And then, later on, you worked for the California Restaurant Association?
After I graduated I worked for the Assembly Fellow Program. I was George Runner’s first fellow, and I worked for him for a couple years. Then I went to work for the CRA for five years, first in Sacramento, then Monterey and San Diego.
Why does San Diego hold a special place in you heart?
First of all, if you’ve ever been there, it is the best city in the United States, besides the cities Senator Runner represents of course. It has great restaurants, weather, the ocean and it has the San Diego Chargers.
So, then, I heard a rumor that you claim to be a 49ers fan, but you’re actually a Chargers fan?
You can be both because the 49ers are an NFC team and the Chargers are an AFC team. If they played each other, then I would root for the Niners.
I heard that you were the point person to talk to when Runner and former Democratic Senator Deborah Ortiz worked together on stem-cell research. It seems like strange bedfellows.
They both came at it from different perspectives, but there was common ground on good government principles–making sure that there was sunshine, high conflict of interest standards, and that the woman’s health was protected. Even though Sen. Ortiz supported Prop. 71 and Sen. Runner opposed it, you’re still talking about taxpayer dollars that need to be protected.
There are not too many people who are both legislative and press director. How are you able to perform the two roles?
I like how Sen. Runner structures it because if I’m communicating with the press, it really helps to know all the details of how legislation works. Then, you can better communicate what the policy does. It’s fun.
What do you do outside of work?
Well, I go to the gym, of course, and play volleyball. It’s a rec team and we’re not very good. We’re called Capitol Punishment but we do not punish very many people. But we’re getting better. I have a little toy poodle and we go walking.
Do you dress up your poodle?
No. She’s a hard-core poodle and doesn’t have any fancy clothes. She’s seven pounds, but she’s tough.
Speaking of tough, how did you get involved with Prop. 83, Jessica’s Law?
Well, the senator and his wife, Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, were both honorary co-chairs, and authored the legislation here in the building. It is an important issue and I feel very strongly about making sure that we have tough sentences on sex offenders. So, it matched. I reduced my hours here so that I could be the spokeswoman and manager of the campaign. We’re happy that the voters passed it.
What’s it like to work for a legislator who is married to another legislator?
It’s fun. A lot of time the Senate and the Assembly don’t interact as much. We call it Team Runner, and we work together sometimes on different issues.
Senator Runner authored the bill authorizing the AMBER alert system. Have you guys ever met families that were reunited as a result?
Right after it passed, the very first AMBER alert issued in California was for two girls from his district. And they were found and saved. Senator Runner has actually had quite a few interactions with the girls and their families. So, yes.