Democratic congresswoman, GOP husband odd convention couple

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LOS ANGELES - Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley and her husband are Nevada's version of James Carville and Mary Matalin: married, politically active and members of opposite parties.

Dr. Larry Lehrner, a kidney specialist in Las Vegas, has contributed to Republican candidates and causes for years, but joined his wife at the Democratic National Convention this week.

''It's very interesting to see the convention from the inside,'' he said. ''But I'm not a mole. I'm here as my wife's escort.

''We're both political junkies. We watch all the talking-head news shows, but there's never any argument. We discuss the issues, and I express my views - but she has the final word.''

And it comes in Congress.

''I get to vote,'' Berkley said.

Berkley and Lehrner were married 1 years ago. The congresswoman met him while touring his medical office. On their first date, Lehrner told Berkley ''I have a confession to make.''

Berkley said the ''confession'' line unnerved her at first. But Lehrner explained he was talking about his GOP status and she said, ''Some of my best friends are Republicans.''

Their separate professional lives keep them busy, and often on opposite ends of the country. But Berkley said, ''We're a team.''

Berkley said her political discussions with her husband have tempered some of her views, but not so much that she'd consider a party switch.

Lehrner has moderated his views too, but won't register as a Democrat anytime soon.

''I still think the Democrats need to be a little more friendly on tax issues. I'd still like the capital gains tax cut,'' he said.

After their wedding, Berkley and Lehrner met Democrat Carville and Republican Matalin and mentioned their similar status. But Berkley said they received no advice from the political opposites, who've been married for more than nine years.

''They just said, 'Oh, you're another one of us,''' Berkeley said.


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