Political powerhouses and their famous roommates

Connie Britton supports her former roommate Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at her presidential campaign kickoff.
Connie Britton supports her former roommate Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at her presidential campaign kickoff.
lev radin/Shutterstock
Connie Britton supports her former roommate Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at her presidential campaign kickoff.

Political powerhouses and their famous roommates

We know these New York leaders. But we don’t know them like their roommates.
March 10, 2020

It’s hard to imagine now-prominent politicians, actors and entertainers once living with roommates. Whether they were living together during college or just trying to save money on an apartment in Albany or Washington, there are many reasons why these leaders once had to cram into small apartments together. Here are some of New York’s most famous pairings who were once roommates.

Kirsten Gillibrand & Connie Britton 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This is my friend @kirstengillibrand. She’s running for President. My friend Kirsten Gillibrand is running for President! I gotta say, as exciting and extraordinary as it is to have a friend run for President (I mean when does that happen?), I find myself even more ecstatic for the country. That a woman of this caliber, this fortitude, this integrity, and this intelligence might have a shot at becoming our leader. That is a thrill. How lucky we would be. How lucky I have been to know her since our college days (yup this picture was taken while we were studying in China many moons ago). Kirsten is having a campaign kickoff tomorrow morning outside Trump International Tower in Columbus Circle, NY. Doors open at 11 and the program starts at noon. All are welcome. I’ll be there, speaking for my friend. I have the rare honor to actually know this candidate, and know her for a long time. I’d love to tell you about her. I hope those that can come will. #BraveWins

A post shared by connie britton (@conniebritton) on

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and "Friday Night Lights" actress Connie Britton’s friendship is iconic. In the 1980s, they roomed together during a Dartmouth College summer study abroad program in Beijing and traveled throughout China on the weekends. Gillibrand recalled their time together as “adventurous” and told HuffPost that her most vivid memory was the time when the two got food poisoning and had to be taken to the hospital on the back of a bike. They remain supportive of each other’s careers. Britton hosted a fundraiser and spoke at the Columbus Circle kickoff event for Gillibrand’s presidential candidacy last year.

Chuck Schumer & Dick Durbin

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New York Senator Chuck Schumer (left) and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (right)
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New York Senator Chuck Schumer (left) and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (right)
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New York Senator Chuck Schumer (left) and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (right)
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New York Senator Chuck Schumer (left) and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (right)
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New York Senator Chuck Schumer (left) and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (right)
Image Credit: 
lev radin/Shutterstock; Marie Kanger Born/Shutterstock

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin have publicly butted heads in the past, but their relationship has survived and thrived for the better part of four decades. Until the end of 2014, the two lived in a two-story house in Washington, D.C., that was owned by former Rep. George Miller of California. The house reportedly resembled more of a frat house than the lodgings of some of the most influential Democrats in the country.

Alessandra Biaggi, Jessica Ramos & Yuh-Line Niou

State Sens. Alessandra Biaggi and Jessica Ramos as well as Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou shared a seven-room apartment in Albany last year where they crashed on session days and debated state policies. The young lawmakers were part of the progressive tidal wave in the 2018 Democratic primaries that saw Biaggi, Ramos and others defeat establishment incumbents. Niou won her primary in 2016, taking over the seat that had been held by former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Biaggi called their relationship a “sisterhood.

Carl Heastie & Patrick Jenkins 

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Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Albany lobbyist Patrick Jenkins 
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Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Albany lobbyist Patrick Jenkins 
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Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Albany lobbyist Patrick Jenkins 
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Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Albany lobbyist Patrick Jenkins 
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Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Albany lobbyist Patrick Jenkins 
Image Credit: 
New York State Assembly; Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates

The relationship between Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Albany lobbyist and political consultant Patrick Jenkins goes back decades. The two lived together while Heastie was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and statistics and Jenkins was studying liberal arts at Stony Brook University. Both contributed to the university’s student-led magazine Blackworld. Two decades later, Jenkins served as Heastie’s top aide from 2009 to 2010 and was still collecting a retainer from Heastie’s office as a paid consultant in 2016. Jenkins’ lobbying business has more than quadrupled since Heastie became speaker.

Hakeem Jeffries & Victor Williams 

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (left) and actor Victor Williams (right)
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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (left) and actor Victor Williams (right)
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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (left) and actor Victor Williams (right)
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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (left) and actor Victor Williams (right)
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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (left) and actor Victor Williams (right)
Image Credit: 
lev radin/Shutterstock; s_bukley/Shutterstock

In the early 1990s, now-Rep. Hakeem Jeffries roomed with "King of Queens" actor Victor Williams while at Binghamton University. While they were both originally pursuing political science degrees, Williams eventually abandoned the major and turned his attention to theater.

Anthony Weiner & Jon Stewart

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Daily Show host Jon Stewart (left) and former Rep. Anthony Weiner (right)
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Daily Show host Jon Stewart (left) and former Rep. Anthony Weiner (right)
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Daily Show host Jon Stewart (left) and former Rep. Anthony Weiner (right)
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Daily Show host Jon Stewart (left) and former Rep. Anthony Weiner (right)
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Daily Show host Jon Stewart (left) and former Rep. Anthony Weiner (right)
Image Credit: 
FeatureFlash Photo Agency/Shutterstock; lev radin/Shutterstock

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner and former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart were never college roomates, but they did live together in a summer house in Dewey Beach, Delaware, in 1987. The two met while Weiner was on exchange at the College of William & Mary where Stewart was pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Stewart didn’t shy away from criticizing and joking about Weiner’s scandalous behaviour.

Eliot Spitzer & Jim Cramer

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Former Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer (left) and "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer (right)
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Former Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer (left) and "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer (right)
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Former Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer (left) and "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer (right)
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Former Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer (left) and "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer (right)
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Former Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer (left) and "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer (right)
Image Credit: 
Everett Collection/Shutterstock; s_bukley/Shutterstock

Before becoming governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer waged a war against corruption on Wall Street as state attorney general. His later involvement with a prostitution ring blindsided his former Harvard Law School roommate: “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer. The host said: “It was inconceivable to me. He’s a friend of mine, and it’s inconceivable, but it happened.”

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Jana Cholakovska
is an editorial intern at City & State.
20201204