Reflections On: Meeting Sean Eldridge, and Guy Cecil

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With Sean Eldridge at Harvard Law School.

I had the pleasure of meeting former Congressional candidate for New York’s 19th, Sean Eldridge, at an event with the Harvard Law School Democrats. Eldridge is the partner of Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and founder of New Republic. Moving to New York in 2009, Hughes and Eldridge became a political force in New York politics, as stated in The New York Times article, “A Powerful Combination“:

Since moving to New York in 2009, Mr. Hughes and his even younger fiancé, Sean Eldridge, 25, an investor and political activist, have emerged as a significant force in political circles, becoming enthusiastic fund-raisers for the progressive issues they support, which include gay civil rights.

They own a 4,000-square-foot sparsely furnished loft with 12-foot ceilings on Crosby Street in SoHo, where they have held several events in the last year for, among others, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the latter attended by Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader.

“In a short period of time, Sean and Chris have had a big impact on the political life of New York,” said Richard Socarides, a Democratic political strategist and former White House aide during the Clinton administration. “They are very generous with their money and time. They are young, rich, smart and good-looking. It’s a pretty powerful combination.”

For personal history on Eldridge, Politico‘s article, “Facebook co-founder hubby’s brazen run” states:

The son of two physicians, Eldridge was born in Canada (he became a U.S. citizen in 2006) and grew up in Toledo, Ohio. He has long harbored political ambitions. In 2005, while attending Deep Springs College — a rigorous two-year institution in the California desert where pupils take part in such activities as harvesting alfalfa fields and laying gopher traps — a student magazine wrote that Eldridge would “soon become an American to pursue a political career in this country.”

In November of that year, at a brunch in Cambridge, Mass., a mutual friend introduced Eldridge to Hughes, who was at Harvard and helping to launch Facebook. A week later, Eldridge, at the time a customer service rep at a moving company, asked Hughes out on their first date. They married in June 2012.

Both were making serious moves in Democratic politics. In 2009, Eldridge withdrew from Columbia Law School to join a gay marriage advocacy group. In 2012, Hughes bought The New Republic, where he currently is publisher and editor-in-chief.

Friends say the two are very different personalities. Eldridge is an extrovert and social animal, Hughes is more reserved. Hughes — who did not appear in Eldridge’s introductory campaign video — does not participate in day-to-day campaign conversations or strategy sessions, instead providing moral support to the candidate.

“If you see the two of them at an event, Chris is the unassuming one. Sean is the one who will get up and ask you, ‘How is your day?’” said a person who knows the couple well.

“Sean is the strong personality of the two. He is the natural-born politician. Chris is not.”

After the New York Senate voted against marriage equality in 2009, he joined Freedom to Marry as Political Director. In 2012, he announced he was running for Congress. Following a loss by large margins against Congressman Chris Gibson, Eldridge has stated that he is “not going to run again.” He is currently President of Hudson River Ventures, an investment fund that focuses on small businesses.

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With Guy Cecil at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

Prior to becoming Executive Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Guy Cecil was it’s Political Director during the 2006 election cycle, and Chief of Staff to United States Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. According to The New York Times article, “Democrats’ Man for Battles Will Lead New Senate Charge“:

At 23, he was a Southern Baptist minister in Miami. Then he came out as gay, left a conservative church that would not accept him and went to Boston because it seemed diametrically opposite of the world he had fled. His first job was in retail, paying $19,990 a year.

His grandmother had started the family’s hard-knock cycle, running from an abusive marriage in Ohio to Miami, where she raised five children as a waitress for 40 years. His father is a boat mechanic in South Florida. His brother, born with a malignant neuroblastoma, was not supposed to walk, if he survived his first birthday. He is 32 now, with chronic health problems — and two children.

“I really have no need to complain about how hard my job is,” Mr. Cecil, 38, said with a shrug.

Noteably, he has worked on several races before joining the DSCC, including Political Director for Senator Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, according to the MSNBC article, “The ‘Guy’ who saved the Senate for the Dems“:

The former political director to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, has also run, advised or coordinated numerous Senate campaigns dating back to Sen. Fritz Holling’s (D-SC) win over Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) in 1998,  as well as a series of other historical races: Gov. Mel Carnahan’s (D-MO) defeat over Sen. John Ashcroft (R-O) in 2000; now-Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) over Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) in 2002, and Erskine Bowles narrow loss to now-Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) in 2004.

He is not afraid of losing, as The Hill article, “DSCC director relishes being the underdog“:

Last cycle, he helped Democrats expand their majority despite long odds. Now he’s back for another difficult fight, with Senate Democrats defending a tough map to retain their majority in the chamber.

“I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years in a job where most people thought we were going to lose,” Cecil said during an interview in his office at the DSCC.

“When I worked for Bennet, we spent a year and a month when I was with him with folks never saying it to our face necessarily but treating us as if we were going to lose,” he said. “Last cycle too, really until three or four months out, we went through most folks thinking that we were certainly going to lose seats and probably lose the Senate. And now, we find ourselves sort of in a similar situation, where folks expect us to lose seats.”

In September 2013, Cecil married his long-time partner, Edward Mathias McNulty, at Grace Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. After leaving the DSCC, he was the top contender to managing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign (went to Robby Mook).

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