The 2008 Most Beautiful People at the Capitol Awards

Photos by Denis Jeong

Nearly two months ago, we embarked on a quest unprecedented in the history of Minnesota politics. Our pursuit — nay — our calling from a higher being, was to seek out the most beautiful, spectacular, and otherwise hot people who labor at the Capitol — in obscurity or otherwise. The response was overwhelming, with hundreds of comments and e-mails singling out the stunning men and women who turn the wheels of legislation.

Of course, there were roadblocks, not least of which was the MN House of Representatives, according to several reports, "suggesting" that House members not participate in the contest in any way and a persistent error message popping up when House members tried to access the site. But through the ingenuity, perseverance, and profoundly inappropriate suggestions of outfits for winners to wear to their photo shoots by The Rake‘s editorial staff, we found a way to bring you, our readers the unbelievably sexy hotdish that is the 2008 Most Beautiful People at the Capitol awards.

And because our readers made this possible, it’s up to you to pick the King and Queen of Minnesota politics. Take a moment to decide which one man and one woman in the photos below gives you that odd tingly feeling — whose smoldering stare leaps forth from the electronic page to make you shift uncomfortably in your seat. Once you’ve wiped the sweat from your brow, post a comment below to tell us your choices. We’ll be throwing a coronation party later this summer to announce the Alpha and Omega of Minnesotan political beauty and allowing you to marvel at their glory and majesty. A memory to treasure for a lifetime, to be sure.

The Five Most Beautiful Women at the Capitol

(Click images for full size.)

Laura Blubaugh
Age: 26

Hometown: Elmhurst, IL

Party Affiliation: DFL

One of the most stunning administrators in the history of the Senate Health, Housing, and Family Security Committee, Blubaugh arrived for her photo shoot intent on posing with a handwritten sign calling for universal healthcare. After some discussion, however, it was decided that the focus should be on her fabulously toned legs, rather than a controversial policy platform.

Lest ye think she’s a simple policy wonk blessed from on high by a happy genetic accident, Blubaugh attacks her pastimes with the same zealotry she does equal access to healthcare for all. After work hours, she’s more often than not risking the aforementioned spectacular limbs boating through local white water in a kayak. And after emerging from the river like an adrenaline-fueled Aphrodite fresh from the foam, she finds time to take in plenty of live music, going out two or three times a week to take in anything from Greg Brown to Sigur Ros.

Rachel Hicks

Age: 23

Hometown: Brooklyn Park, MN

Party Affiliation: DFL

Rachel Hicks, legislative assistant for Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, looks nothing like a former rugby player. She does, however, have the drive to advocate for immigration rights and feels an intense responsibility to help do something positive for the immigrant community. In the meantime, she does the rest of the metro area a favor by moonlighting as a beer tub girl on salsa nights at the Loring Pasta Bar.

When not ministering to her adoringly thirsty congregation at the Loring, Hicks is an avid traveler — already making her mark on every continent save Antarctica and living in Argentina for a time. Through it all, she has stayed close to her family, especially, in a Skywalker-esque twist, her twin sister — whom she keeps close to her heart with a tattoo of a double helix DNA strand on her lower back. In fact, in high school at the ISEF-International Science and Engineering Fair, the twins took second place in the heated competition with an entry titled "Twins Two, It Takes Two: Phase Two".

Melissa Reed

Age: 29

Hometown: Minneapolis

Party Affiliation: Impressively non-partisan

Leave it to the City of Minneapolis to employ a stunning, scooter-riding, world-traveling brunette with spectacular taste in liquor as a lobbyist.

Melissa Reed, the stunning, scooter-riding, world-traveling brunette with spectacular taste in liquor in question, is uniquely qualified to argue for her hometown. She grew up on Lake Harriet and went gallivanting across the globe — from Italy to Morocco. She even lived in New Orleans as a civics, law and world history teacher for Teach for America only to return home as one of Minneapolis’ biggest boosters. And along the way she’s picked up that special something that turns heads in every room, despite being directed to dress like a proverbial nun for her photo shoot.

Outside of her efforts at the Capitol to get the funding, programs and respect Minneapolis so richly deserves despite its reputation for hedonism and occasional depravity, Reed develops women’s health curriculum for religious organizations through a non-profit group and raises money to bring disadvantaged New Orleans kids to Minneapolis for seminars on political activism every year. That she accomplishes all this while engaged in a Sisyphean quest for the ultimate bacon cheeseburger and keeping her household well-stocked with high-end Scotch makes her all the more impressive.

Regina Garza

Age: 26

Hometown: Roanoke, VA

Political Affiliation: DFL

Handpicked by former Sen. Jane Ranum to join her staff while working in D.C. as an advocate for labor and immigrant rights, the petite lady in red was brought here by the seductive, yet deceptive, song of Minnesota summers — learning too late that the rumors she heard about the state’s other seasons are all too true. She keeps herself warm by serving as Sen. Mee Moua’s Judiciary committee administrator, keeping a watchful eye on public safety and the courts while working unofficially on immigration policy initiatives for the senator.

A self-described public policy wonk and political animal by nature, Garza still finds time to get away from the grasping tendrils of the legislative arena. Having met her fiancé, a competitive ballroom dancer, while salsa dancing, she continues to learn in the hopes of one day joining him in competition. She is also living proof of the Capitol’s effects on the mental state of all who work there – her tenuous grip on sanity causing her to run the Boston Marathon and planning to follow it up with the Twin Cities Marathon as well. But her drive and passion, combined with that little bit of crazy, makes for a striking package.

Mary Lahammer

Age: 34

Hometown: St. Louis Park

Political Affiliation: "None whatsoever"

TPT’s politics reporter, program host and documentarian extraordinaire is generally known for her impartiality and political acumen, but there’s an extremely vocal subset of her audience watching for the disarming combination of her nigh-angelic good looks and choice of footwear that brings most mortal men to their knees. And despite being one of the most recognizable political journalists in the state, her career in public television has taken her far afield of the Capitol as well — from a pastoral week for a documentary on Isle Royal to a 17-course meal with Fidel Castro and Jesse Ventura.

From her honeyed-blonde hair to her white leather high-heeled boots, Lahammer isn’t one to do things by halves — living an intense life away from Saint Paul’s hallowed legislative grounds as well. A recent foray into cliff-jumping in the Boundary Waters is only the latest example of her fervent desire to live what most would call an exhausting lifestyle. Training for the Olympic marathon trials and hauling 1,000 rolls of sod for an extreme landscaping project with her husband, who shared a 12 mile run with Lahammer on their first date, is seen as the norm in Minnesota’s first family of political journalism.

And to make sure the next generation is prepared to take up arms for the cause, Lahammer’s daughter’s first words were, "More Capitol news mommy, please."

The Five Most Beautiful Men at the Capitol

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Judd Schetnan
Age: 35

Hometown: Fergus Falls, MN

Party Affiliation: "I work for the governor"

Arguments about transit within the hallowed halls of the Capitol often get ugly, but the Met Council’s transit czar, Judd Schetnan, looks damn good after helping deliver a solid session for transit, despite threatened funding cuts for the Central Corridor — not to mention an angry GOP core out for blood after an overridden gubernatorial veto. And it’s obvious the Met Council’s transit lobbyist understands the heavy responsibility that comes with his runner’s physique, deep tan and somewhat roguish charm — looking to help lawmakers find ways to fit public transportation into an already strapped budget to help the entire state live up to its potential.

Of course, now that the hard fought session is over, Schetnan is enjoying a well-deserved break. He spends as much time as possible lately with his wife and two sons, not to mention trips to his cabin just south of his hometown, as well as his boat on the St. Croix to work on deepening his tan – all the better to woo lawmakers in ’09 when the budget forecast is even more dismal than it was this year.

Nick Busse

Age: 26

Hometown: Jordan, MN
Party Affiliation: decidedly non-partisan

Busse, despite his obvious charm and good looks, was less than thrilled upon being the first nominee for this singular honor. However, after realizing the damage was already done, he decided to indulge his co-workers and allow himself to be enshrined as one of the hottest men to ever write for the Session Daily and Weekly.

And despite this break to recognize his contributions to beautifying Saint Paul, this University of Minnesota graduate’s veins pulse in tune with the ebb and flow of legislation — even proposing to his wife at the Capitol. But let it not be said that Busse’s beauty is one-dimensional — when not furiously reporting on House activities, he runs, a blog devoted to showcasing the finer side of Saint Paul, and the occasional squirrel, to all those who fear to tread where legislators dwell.

Peter Brickwedde
Age: 24

Hometown: Minneapolis
Party Affiliation: DFL

As one of the men who keeps the State and Local Government Operations and Oversight committee functioning smoothly, one might imagine Sen. Ann Rest’s legislative assistant would be drunk on the heady nectar that is political power. However, this undeniably dreamy veteran of the Minnesota Senate is well-grounded, saying he’s working in one of the greatest environments he could ask for and demonstrating his modesty by downplaying the hordes of salivating colleagues who demanded his rightful place on the list of the state’s finest.

When not wandering the halls of the Capitol, Brickwedde is a sports fanatic, contributing his journeyman labors to the Senate softball team and honing his already impressive Hebrew physique by playing tennis regularly. And when "The Brick" isn’t in action, he’s often enjoying some well-earned down time watching the Vikings, Twins, Wild, or sumo wrestling on "The Ocho."

Ron Latz

Age: 44

Hometown: Golden Valley, MN

Political Affiliation: DFL

The lone legislator in this roundup, Sen. Latz cuts a striking figure posing in the retail and housing complex he helped build at Excelsior and Grand as a St. Louis Park city councilmember. His work in the legislature is no less striking — having played a pivotal role this session in the 35W bridge collapse victim compensation bill. The majority whip from Senate District 44 has served in the MN Senate since 2006 and for four years before that in the MN House.

The senator also maintains a thriving criminal and employment law practice and spends as much time as possible with his family, traveling from soccer game to soccer game watching his kids and waking up before dawn to maintain the what are, according to one anonymous commenter, the "impressive shoulders and steely jaw that draw jealous stares from his GOP colleagues."

But Sen. Latz isn’t simply a masculine figure for St. Louis Park, Hopkins and Golden Valley housewives to gaze upon with barely disguised desire. He also indulges his artistic side by indulging his inner Von Trapp with his family — singing and playing piano with his wife and kids.

Dave Gillette

Age: 30

Hometown: Minnetrista, MN

Political Affiliation: Card carrying member of the press

The avant-garde creator of a whole new form of video-based illustrated political commentary, Gillette uses his massive drawing muscles for incisive critique while wooing his public with boyish charm and well-developed forearms that would make Olive Oyl swoon in lustful abandon. An avid spectator of politics, Dave combined his passion for illustration with a college-born near-obsession with video documentation that was further fueled by a comedy show he helped create for Channel 45.

When not offering views sketched out in ink, Gillette is an avid outdoorsman, having just returned from a week in the Boundary Waters. He also just bought a home, allowing hopeful viewers a stable location to maintain their watchful vigil on the artistically tousled commentator.






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