The story of Will Robinson and Lynn Reed is very much a big-D Democratic romance.
They work in the presidential campaign of Bill Bradley, cooking up strategy over the breakfast table, mixing media with the World Wide Web--electronic fund-raising with precinct organizing, e-mailing with union bosses. Together, they have helped add vitality and spice to a candidate known for his pedestrian speaking, deep caution and moderate views.
Reed and Robinson met in a '90s kind of way for Democrats: working to defeat a 1995 anti-gay rights referendum in Maine. Robinson was the media consultant and Reed was a fund-raiser.
Robinson's political roots run deeper than Reed's, but they overcame this hurdle. "She is from Louisiana, so whatever she lacks [in terms of life-long partisanship], she got from the natural political environment" of the state, he said.
Initially, after the referendum vote, Reed stayed in Maine, where she had become a pioneer in the political use of the Web while working for former Rep. Tom Andrews (D-Maine), who had taken over People for the American Way and had begun a project called "Expose the Right."
Robinson returned to Washington and started consulting on Democratic congressional campaigns, commuting when he could to Peaks Island off the Maine coast, where Reed lived.
This, however, is not a story of agonizing absences and mournful long-distance calls. Reed soon moved to Washington, where she landed a job in charge of Web operations for the Clinton-Gore campaign. Robinson worked to elect or reelect such Democratic representatives as Julia Carson (Ind.), Jim McGovern (Mass.) and Steny H. Hoyer (Md.).
In November 1997--an off-year--they got married in Reed's home town of Lafayette, La.
For Robinson, 40, politics has been been central to his life since high school, when he worked for the 1974 election of Bob Edgar (D-Pa.) to the House. "His headquarters were a quarter of a mile closer" than the other Democrat, Robinson said, describing the logic of his adolescent decision-making.
Robinson became a Democratic jack-of-all-trades: an Iowa organizer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; labor liaison for Walter F. Mondale's 1984 presidential bid; head of a special Democratic project to prepare for the 1990 redistricting; deputy political director for Michael S. Dukakis's 1988 presidential campaign; all-around deputy and campaign director for Democratic chairman Ron Brown. And now, he heads his own consulting firm.
In the process, Robinson developed the kind of network of friends, associates and contacts in liberal, progressive and labor politics that Bradley needed to build a base for his presidential bid.
For Reed, 29, politics and the high-tech world of the Web are tastes acquired in adulthood.
An English major at Fordham, she wanted to become a fiction writer. But, more through accident and friendship, she went to work raising money for the unsuccessful 1995 gubernatorial campaign of Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, and then moved on to the Maine referendum--and, of course, to Robinson.
"It's literally been on-the-job training. I'm the kind of person people in the office come to saying, 'The computer won't print. Can you make it print?' " Reed said. "Everything I've done on the Internet has been self-taught."
In the Bradley organization, where the two are now camped out as consultants, each has done work that stands out in a campaign that has surprised the Democratic and media establishments.
Reed's Web site for Bradley has been credited with serving as a vehicle for raising at least $200,000 and for recruiting some 25,000 supporters, all of whom get regular e-mails on campaign activity and on events in their area.
Robinson gave the campaign a credibility with union leaders and progressive organizers that is difficult to measure but is clear in the inroads Bradley has made in these quarters.
"It's very important that I work for whoever I perceive as the most progressive candidate," he said.
Reed's venture into entrepreneurship with the creation of NetPoliticsGroup.com does not provide her the same luxury. She would "prefer" to be able to pick and choose the people and organizations she works for, but, she said, "My criteria are not quite as stringent. I need to have more clients."
In their work for Bradley, Robinson travels more than Reed, which would be a source of tension in some marriages. But Robinson notes that Reed is enmeshed in technology, and, for someone like that, "e-mail counts as personal communication."
"Is he saying that it counts as meaningful communication?" Reed asked an inquiring reporter, adding, "Only if he is talking about the cool new e-mail pager."
Title: President, NetPoliticsGroup.com.
Education: Bachelor's degree in English literature, Fordham University, Bronx.
Previous jobs: Webmaster, Clinton-Gore '96 reelection and inaugural committees; fund-raising for "No On One" campaign in Maine in 1995; fund-raising for Mary Landrieu in 1994 Louisiana gubernatorial race.
Hobbies: Cajun cooking, theater.
Title: Partner, MacWilliams, Cosgrove, Smith & Robinson.
Education: Attended Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service.
Previous jobs: Consulting on "No On One" campaign in Maine in 1995; associate, Joe Slade White & Co. (1991-94); campaign director, Democratic National Committee, 1989-91; deputy political director, Dukakis presidential campaign, 1987-88.
Hobbies: Astronomy, keeping his 15-year-old pickup truck running.
CAPTION: Lynn Reed and Will Robinson in their West Orange, N.J., campaign office.