When Love and Politics Mix

Emorie Broemel, a senior director of government relations at ViacomCBS, never imagined she would meet her future husband at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. As a Democrat, it was one of the last places she expected to find love.

“I joke that it’s my secret shame,” she said. She was also too consumed by her work at the time to even consider the possibility that she might make a romantic connection. “Conventions for me are not fun at all,” she said. “They’re very stressful. I’m like doing events and running around.”

But for Philip Swartzfager II, an operations volunteer at the July convention, politics were the furthest thing from his mind when he was introduced to Ms. Broemel by Sarah Hudson, a mutual friend. Instead, he was surprised and a bit regretful. Ms. Hudson had actually been trying to set the two of them up for months and he wished they had connected sooner.

It was not an ideal environment for a first date, Mr. Swartzfager said, because they each had social obligations throughout the evening. But after drinks, a concert performance by the country singer-songwriter Pat Green and a stop at the former House speaker John Boehner’s warehouse party — one of the convention’s marquee gatherings — they had gotten enough time together for Mr. Swartzfager, 39, to feel confident he’d met someone special. “I knew when we left the party,” he said. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to get her to commit to another date.’”

It was about two weeks later when they were able to see each together again because Ms. Broemel, 36, had to travel, with only two days of rest at home in Washington in between, to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. To keep himself on her radar, Mr. Swartzfager, a manager of government relations at PayPal, sent Ms. Broemel an “encouraging text message so she didn’t forget me.”

The message, Ms. Broemel said, was unnecessary: “I knew that I wanted to see Phil again.” Despite being exhausted from the back-to-back conventions, she agreed to meet up with Mr. Swartzfager for drinks at the Spanish restaurant Jaleo, just a few days after returning to the capital.

Within months, they were dating seriously and in August 2017, on a trip to Rosemary Beach, Fla., unplugged from work and fully relaxed for the first time since they met, the couple realized that their relationship was on its way to becoming permanent. “That was kind of a crystallizing trip where I think we both knew that we wanted and that we would at some point marry,” Ms. Broemel said.

Further confirmation came in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic when they quarantined together. “Although I knew we would get engaged, I knew we would be married, it was a very comforting experience to know that you can get along with somebody so well that you can weather working from home together,” Mr. Swartzfager said.

He planned to propose in Baltimore, after a meal at Charleston, one of their favorite restaurants. But that fell through because of new public health rules, so Mr. Swartzfager asked Ms. Broemel to marry him at their Capitol Hill apartment in December.

They were married April 17 before eight guests at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, where the bride grew up. The Rev. Anne Stevenson, Ms. Broemel’s childhood priest, came out of retirement to perform the Episcopal ceremony.

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