Home

Team DelBene Taking Wedding Season By Storm

A trio of aides in the employ of Rep. Suzan DelBene are well on their way to walking down the aisle — including one whom the Washington Democrat is expected to marry off this Saturday.  

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Aaron Schmidt, DelBene’s chief of staff, plans to take the plunge this weekend with his beau, Justin Zielke, during a ceremony at the Gibson Island Club in neighboring Maryland. The duo carved out a starring role for DelBene, who will preside over the public declaration of commitment (Schmidt and Zielke plan to knock out the legal portion of the proceedings ahead of time) in front of family and friends.  

Schmidt told HOH he floated the idea of having DelBene help mark the special occasion during a working dinner at Zaytinya. The congresswoman, thankfully, readily accepted.  

“We were looking for someone we knew. And I probably spend more time with her than Justin,” Schmidt said of the bond he’s forged with the boss while logging late nights on Capitol Hill.  

DelBene said she was a bit surprised, but thrilled to be playing a part in the festivities.  

“I was incredibly honored,” she said.  

And she’s not taking her responsibility lightly. DelBene said she and Schmidt have been plotting wedding strategy together. And she told HOH she has reached out to his inner circle for revealing anecdotes and treasured memories to build into her scheduled remarks.  

Schmidt, meanwhile, is attempting to take the whole life-changing event in stride. He said he met Zielke, who spends his days advancing the mission of a local communications outfit, nearly a decade ago after being stood up by another gent. Rather than stepping out with the one guy — who Schmidt said canceled on him at the last minute, yet whom he later saw out and about that same fateful evening (“So it all worked out for the best,” he estimated.) — Schmidt wound up getting to know Zielke instead.  

The pair got engaged in Paris. “It’s cliché for a reason,” Schmidt said.  

They briefly considered doing a destination wedding in Austin, Texas — Schmidt calls San Antonio home; Zielke is a native of Fraser, Mich. — until a political operative suggested Schmidt give the charming Eastern Shore a once-over.  

“We’re gonna have a bus to take people from D.C. to the island,” Schmidt said of the closed loop he’s created to usher colleagues back and forth.  

With the Supreme Court mulling the validity of same-sex marriages , Schmidt remains ever mindful of the historic proceedings.  

“We’re really happy to be living in the time period that we are,” he asserted. “We are hopeful the courts will establish marriage equality across the country soon.”  

According to DelBene, most of her staff, including district aides who are on board with flying in, is planning to attend Schmidt’s shindig.  

One notable exception is legislative correspondent Whitney Hamilton, who will also be making it official Saturday with her fiancé, Patrick McCarthy.  

DelBene’s district scheduler, Bree Rabourn, is on target to tie the knot with Ryan Cowper come August.  

Correction May 19, 1:17 p.m. An earlier version of this post misspelled Bree Rabourn's name.  

The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.