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Their Careers and Romance Took Root in Politics


Henry Connelly, the communications director for the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, can relate to the cinematic tale of a farmer discovering his “Field of Dreams” in an Iowa cornfield.

The girl of his dreams, Samantha Warren, was born and raised in the thick of an Illinois cornfield. Their love story, though, was set in Washington.

“He inspires me,” said Ms. Warren, the chief of staff for Representative Bill Foster, Democrat of Illinois. “Henry’s successful but modest, and is so generous with his time and his talents where both me and his friends are concerned. And he comes from the most wonderful family.”

After graduating from Yale in 2009, Mr. Connelly, 34, was hired as an organizer on a campaign for the 2011 special election for a Los Angeles-area congressional seat, which was won by Janice Hahn. She then hired Mr. Connelly to work in her Washington office.

“When you win a special election like that, you get thrown right into an office and have very little time to make hires and fill it up with people,” Mr. Connelly said. “The first week or so is always complete chaos.”

Within the maelstrom of those very first days came Ms. Warren, 36. “Samantha had a boyfriend at the time, and early-on, I really tried to do everything I could to not admit to myself how extraordinary I thought she was, and how much I liked her,” said Mr. Connelly, who was born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles.

“She was smart and tough and radiant,” he added. “I really tried to convince myself that it was a platonic thing.”

Like Mr. Connelly, Ms. Warren’s career also took root in politics. She got her start working on the election campaign of Representative Debbie Halvorson, Democrat of Illinois, in 2008. She then worked as the regional director in Ms. Halvorson’s Illinois office until she lost re-election in 2010.

Following the advice of a friend, Ms. Warren “took a leap of faith,” as she put it, in July 2011 and moved to Washington without a job, initially joining Mr. Connelly in Ms. Hahn’s congressional office as an intern.

“I was hoping that a paying job would eventually open up, and thank goodness it did,” said Ms. Warren, who was born and raised in Princeton, Ill., a rural farming community.

“Our family home was on an unnamed postal road in the middle of cornfields,” she said. “Those cornfields seemed to stretch to the horizon.”

It wasn’t long before she and Mr. Connelly became fast friends and confidants. “Henry was so handsome and super intelligent,” said Ms. Warren, who graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, from which she received a master’s degree in political science.

“I was sort of aware that he really liked me, and to tell you the truth I was worried about it, because I didn’t want to ruin a good friendship.”

They carried on that friendship for two and a half years, “until it became undeniable,” Ms. Warren said.

They turned a romantic corner in February 2013, on a first date that began in Mr. Connelly’s Washington apartment, where Ms. Warren helped him cook risotto.

“I knew that the constant stirring required would mean precious minutes rubbing shoulders with each other in front of the stove,” said Mr. Connelly, laughing.

Later that night they went dancing, and were still on the dance floor when they shared their first kiss.

“It was a little nerve-racking,” Ms. Warren said. “But then I thought, ‘Wow, I think we have something here.’”

On a March weekend in 2019, Mr. Connelly took Ms. Warren to brunch at their favorite restaurant in Washington, and they later walked together through the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin, where Mr. Connelly proposed.

They were married July 31 at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara in California. Sidney Fowler, a United Church of Christ minister, officiated before 100 guests.

“We have a passion for making the world a better place,” the bride said the day after her wedding, “and we’re going to make it happen.”


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