For all the disappointment that came with losing his run for a seat in the House of Delegates in 2010, Towson resident David Kosak later found the cloud of that loss had a silver lining.
The day after the defeat, Kosak, who later served as a two-term president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations from 2010 to 2012, accepted an offer to work for Gov. Martin O'Malley's re-election campaign at an office in Timonium.
On his first day, he was trained and given a desk across from Stephanie Binetti.
"She jokes about me coming in, and I was moving things around and she thought, 'Who the heck is this kid, thinking he's in charge?' " Kosak, 26, said.
Three campaigns and just over two years later, Binetti is that "kid" Kosak's fiancée. They were discreet in the early months about their relationship — keeping it from other O'Malley staffers until election night. But now, the couple is open about a relationship forged by a mutual passion for politics.
"It's definitely been a political relationship," Kosak said. "This is our life. We're going to be doing this for a really long time."
The Jan. 21 inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama concludes what has been the couple's politically finest year so far. Binetti, 30, worked for Sen. Ben Cardin until the Democratic primary in April. In July, she was tapped to run a field office in Denver for the Obama campaign.
While Kosak was driving Binetti out to Colorado, he got a call from Colin O'Dea, a member of Howard County Executive Ken Ulman's gubernatorial campaign. For years, Kosak had told Ulman and O'Dea that he would drop everything to come and work for the campaign if and when Ulman decided to run for governor. O'Dea told Kosak they wanted him to be the first hire in that campaign.
Kosak said his role as GTCCA president taught him much about governing and leadership. His polished people skills have served him well as he and Ulman's team have canvassed the state and began to host fundraisers.
"GTCCA is such a wonderful organization to get involved in because it gave me the opportunity to work on the different skill sets in terms of leading meetings, working with people coming from different backgrounds … and learning how to compromise," he said. "It gave me a chance at a young age to sit in a room with people who are much older than me, and much more distinguished in their roles, and hold my own."
Neither Kosak nor Binetti come from political backgrounds. Kosak is a native of Rockville who graduated from Towson University in 2009 with a degree in journalism, while Binetti is an Essex native who graduated from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Hampton before graduating from University of Baltimore.
The time while Binetti was in Colorado was the longest time spent apart for the couple. While out west, Binetti supervised a team of Obama campaign workers who sought to drum up support in the critical swing state.
As a regional field director in West Denver, Binetti said her charges primarily worked to drive turnout during Colorado's three-week-long early voting period.
"Our biggest focus was on the vote-by-mail portion," she said. "We did a lot of ballot chasing, so by Election Day we had already been working nonstop for about three weeks."
Kosak traveled west one last time after elections to spend some down time with Binetti in the Rocky Mountains. He joked that he wouldn't have brought her home had Obama lost, but given the victory, Binetti returned home with an extra special win bonus: an engagement ring.
"We had a lot to celebrate," Binetti said. "He had gotten his job, I was coming home a big winner and of course, we got engaged. It was just a really great time in our lives."
Upon her return to Maryland, Binetti was asked to coordinate volunteers for Obama's inauguration committee, and that time commitment has further separated the newly engaged couple. Kosak said the long days they each spend on their jobs have, at times, made them mere passers-by in each other's lives.
"For now, he's concentrated on working for Ken Ulman and I'm concentrating on writing my resume and making sure that whatever our next step is, it's something that can support what he's doing in Maryland," Binetti said.
"Because now, it's his turn. Only one of us can work on a big, fancy campaign at a time."