As founder and principal of a successful consulting firm and current chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie can live just about anywhere he wants. Yet, he and his family choose to live in the Mount Vernon area. This area has been their home since 1996, when he and his wife, Cathy, and their first-born, John, moved to the Oakbrooke neighborhood.
The initial move to Mount Vernon was precipitated by their good friends with whom they shared a nanny on Capitol Hill. These same friends had moved to the Fort Hunt area in 1992. The two families got along so well and liked the nanny sharing arrangement that they continued to do it even though it was geographically difficult.
"We all got along great and shared a great nanny, so when they moved [to Mount Vernon], we continued to share the nanny," said Gillespie.
Looking back on it, Gillespie reflects that it was probably crazy driving their children from Capitol Hill to Mount Vernon and then back to Washington, D.C., in rush hour. After a few years, they decided to leave the city behind and joined their friends.
"When we outgrew our house, we decided to move to the suburbs. We had spent so much time in the Fort Hunt area, so that's where we looked," said Gillespie. "I'm a Virginian now."
AS ONE CAN IMAGINE, Gillespie's position requires a considerable amount of travel. He mostly flies in and out of Reagan National Airport and has been trying to keep weekend travel to a minimum. When he's in town, he spends time with his family, coaching John's basketball team and helping with Fort Hunt Little League. They belong to Good Shepherd Catholic Church, where they attend weekly mass.
"I've been to 29 states so far [for the campaign], some of them several times," said Gillespie. "I try to fence off [traveling on] weekends, but now things are starting to pick up."
Gillespie can thank his wife, Cathy, for being understanding. The two met while playing softball in the Capitol Hill League; she was working for Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.). While Cathy chooses to be with her family now, she continues to be politically active.
"She's a very strong political operative; she belongs to W Stands for Women and the Mount Vernon Republican Women's Club," said Gillespie.
Cathy Gillespie said, "Even though Ed was serving as RNC Chairman, he still managed to coach our son's CYO basketball team from November to March this past season, and take time to do special things with our daughters. He took Carrie to 'Take Your Daughter to Work Day‚' and takes Mollie out with her friends. Being a good father is his top priority. And that is why he is working so hard for the President˜for our children."
GENE LAPORTA, Mount Vernon resident and buyer for Village Hardware, has been a friend and neighbor of Gillespie's for years. While he hasn't seen him as much lately, because of his "crazy Washington schedule," Laporta said, "He is very generous with his time; he's a wonderful family man and he always has a smile on his face."
Even though the two men have opposing political views, Laporta said that Gillespie doesn't let politics get in the way of their friendship. They're able to joke about it, and Laporta said, "I keep asking him not to do such a good job."
Another Mount Vernon resident and partner with Public Opinion Strategies, Glen Bolger, has worked with Gillespie on the Bush and other political campaigns.
"It's neat when somebody from the Mount Vernon neighborhood makes it up to such a high position, especially when he still makes time for basketball and his children," said Bolger. "Clearly what he's doing now will only position him for the future. He will be that much more in demand."
Gillespie said that he is campaigning not only for the president's re-election, but for some senators and congressman as well. With over five months of campaigning still to go, Gillespie said, "I do feel good about it [the campaign]; I'm excited about what I see."
As to what Gillespie will do after the campaign, he will most likely return to his firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC, but did say, "I serve at the pleasure of the president."
When asked what he would do if his children decided to become Democrats, he said, "I come from an area that was very Democrat; my mother is a Democrat and my father an independent. So far, I haven't seen any indication [that my children will become Democrats], but as long as they're politically active, it's okay."