John Boehner’s Wife
March 8, 2012 by staff
John Boehner’s Wife, For someone who fashions herself a Washington outsider, Debbie Boehner sure knows how to stay on message. Mrs. Boehner, wife of the newly elected speaker of the House, the Ohio Republican John A. Boehner, in an interview Tuesday kept hitting on the theme of how she and her husband are “just normal, average people.”
She talked about how she had no plans to move to Washington, worked part-time as a cashier, helped mow the family lawn and ironed Mr. Boehner’s shirts when she was in town — “even though he says he does them all,” she added, laughing.
“I’m just me, I’m just approachable — I’m not going to change,” she said.
Her husband added, “She’s about the most down-to-earth person you’ll ever meet.”
Mrs. Boehner, 62, watched Wednesday from the House gallery, flanked by the couple’s two grown daughters, as her husband assumed his new role. He swept into power on an anti-establishment wave of conservative change, and is working to cast himself as an outside-the-Beltway crusader even though he has served in Congress for two decades.
But it is Mrs. Boehner — sandy-haired, lightly bronzed and plain-spoken — who is truly not a creature of Washington or immersed in politics. She was a limited presence on the campaign trail, has never lived in the District of Columbia — she said she came to town “if there’s a fun event” — and has no plans to become a Washington figure.
“His job is to do this job, and I’m just going to do whatever I can to stay out of the way,” Mrs. Boehner said, wearing a chunky pearl necklace and cream-colored vest in the interview near her husband’s Capitol office. “I just live the life at home that he would be living if he was there.”
Most days, she said, that means “Pilates in the morning, and then I just try to keep up with him.” Mr. Boehner calls every day at 8 a.m. to update her on his schedule, and then they go their own ways, checking in from time to time.
Mrs. Boehner is a real estate agent in suburban Cincinnati — her current listings include a condominium for under $100,000 and a house for more than $3 million. The job requires some of the same skills her husband’s post does — making a sales pitch, reassuring the wary, bringing a deal to a close.
She serves on the board of directors for the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty, a philanthropic group, and also works at the Delhi Flower and Garden Center, where she handles the cash register and occasionally does some pruning.
“Everybody was like, ‘What are you doing working here?’ And I go, “Well, I get a good discount,’ ” she said, adding that her daughter Tricia, 30, is getting married in March and that Delhi will be doing the flowers. “I’m working, just like everybody else.”
By the standards of Congress, the Boehners are neither superrich nor just scraping by. Last year, Mr. Boehner listed his minimum net worth at $1.8 million. Mrs. Boehner said she was “not a frivolous person” and described buying a $100 beige dress from Dillard’s to meet Queen Elizabeth II at a state dinner in Washington in 2007.
“I was in a room with people who buy $10,000 gowns, and I can’t do that kind of stuff,” Mrs. Boehner said. “Would I wear it again? Probably not. It worked. It was fine.”
Though she is getting more comfortable in Washington and feels like she is “part of the team,” she said she had “a great support group” of friends and fellow golfers back home.
“That’s probably why I stay there,” she said.
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