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Brooklyn Conservative Party's first couple recalls road to romance

Christine Sisto and Liam McCabe say they have a lot more in common than just their political views. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Conservatively speaking, they’re a cute couple!

Conservative Party sweethearts Christine Sisto and Liam McCabe, founders of the Brooklyn South Conservative Club, are proof that true love can blossom in the heat of a political campaign.

The two started dating in 2012 when they were both working on U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island) re-election campaign. Grimm had won his first term in congress in 2010 and was running for a second term. McCabe was the director of Grimm’s Brooklyn re-election campaign office and Sisto was hired by the congressman as a campaign strategist. The long hours, the stress, and the junk-food eating habits acquired by those who work on political campaigns don’t sound like a recipe for romance. But the campaign is what brought the couple together.

Still, the road to romance wasn’t smooth.

They first met in 2010 when Sisto was a student at George Washington University in Washington DC and was working as an intern in Grimm’s Capitol Hill office. McCabe, a community liaison for the congressman’s Brooklyn office, was in Washington for some meetings with the lawmaker’s Capitol Hill staff.

These days, Sisto and McCabe are working on making their own mark on politics with the club they co-founded last year.

Brooklyn South Conservative Club members collect petition signatures for candidates for public office, raise funds for candidates, and contribute money and manpower to charitable causes.

The club will hold a President's Day reception at the Hall of Fame Billiards Hall on Ovington Avenue in Bay Ridge on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m.

Over lunch at the Bridgeview Diner on Third Avenue on a recent Saturday, Sisto and McCabe talked about their relationship and how politics brought them together.

They are now a two-city couple. McCabe, who is director of community affairs for Grimm’s Brooklyn office, lives in Bay Ridge. Sisto, a reporter and web content manager for the National Review, calls Washington DC home. “But we visit each other a lot. I’m either coming up here or Liam comes down to see me,” Sisto told the Brooklyn Eagle as she munched on a grilled chicken salad. McCabe ordered a western omelet.

“When I first met Christine, she was working at the reception desk in the congressman’s DC office. After chatting with her, I thought she was cute and interesting,” he told the Eagle.

But romantic sparks didn’t fly right away.

They met again in 2011. “It was at a Cyclones game. The congressman was there to throw out the first pitch,” McCabe recalled. Sisto, a Brooklyn Cyclones season ticket holder, was attending the ball game to see her favorite team.

Again, however, sparks didn’t fly. For one thing, McCabe felt that Sisto had brushed him off when he tried to talk to her. “It was like I wasn’t there,” he said.

He wasn’t imagining things. For her, that evening, he wasn’t there. “I saw the congressman and I wanted to talk to him. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even see Liam sitting there,” Sisto said in her own defense. Sisto, who was working for another congressman in Washington at the time, wanted to talk to Grimm about possibly getting a job working for him in Brooklyn. She is originally from Bay Ridge.

In 2012, when Grimm was running for re-election and was being challenged by Democrat Mark Murphy, he asked McCabe to be the Brooklyn director of his campaign. The campaign headquarters was located on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge.

Things were going along swimmingly for McCabe, who was busy hiring staff members and organizing a field operation, until one day when he learned that Grimm had hired a new campaign strategist to work out of the Brooklyn campaign office. The strategist turned out to be Sisto.

“I usually had input into who was hired for the campaign. But Congressman Grimm hired her without any input from me. I was thinking ‘Who is this woman he hired? What’s so special about her?’” McCabe recalled.

He soon found out what made Sisto special. “She showed up early on the first day. And before you know it, I realized that we couldn’t have done anything without her. She was great at crunching the numbers, working with the campaign volunteers, and organizing people. She was essential to the campaign,” he said.

“I really enjoyed working on that campaign. There’s so much that goes into it and things are different every day,” Sisto said.

In the middle of all of the campaign madness, the Sisto and McCabe fell in love.

It started off as a series of conversations about life and love. She talked to him about her dislike of the casual sex hook-up culture that many 20-somethings take part in. McCabe, who at 35, is a decade older than Sisto, listened sympathetically. When he told her that not all men are the same, she replied, “yeah, but a guy like you would never take me out!”

He took the hint and asked her out.

On their first date, they went out to dinner at Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island and then attended a Cyclones game at MCU Ball Park. “I had a feeling in my heart this was going to be a great date,” McCabe said.

The two found that they had much in common, despite their age difference. They had both lost their fathers in recent years. Both of their fathers were Vietnam War veterans. “We had the same interest in politics, history and the same cultural interests,” McCabe said.

“We’re both Conservatives and our politics is important to us, but the things that keep us together are not political. It’s deeper than that,” Sisto said.

They both have a commitment to public service and share a desire to help people. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Sisto and McCabe were part of a team Grimm organized for a recovery effort on Staten Island. They trudged through mud to deliver supplies and once got stuck while driving on a flooded road.

They managed to get out of that jam and continued traveling together.

***UPDATE***

On Feb. 10, Christine Sisto contacted the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to report that the Presidents' Day reception had been canceled. It will take place in the spring, according to Sisto.

***CORRECTION***

Sisto's job title was incorrectly reported in the artcle. She manages the National Review's Washington DC office and works on its social media sites. We regret the error.

February 6, 2014 - 11:30am


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