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As if you cared - Capitol Hill's most beautiful people

The votes are in: South Carolina Rep. Gresham Barrett is one of the 10 "Most Beautiful" people on Capitol Hill.

And Barrett, a Republican with gubernatorial ambitions, isn't even the most beautiful person in his own office.

That accolade goes to his press secretary, Brecke Latham. She placed No. 2 in the annual contest by The Hill, a widely read political newspaper in Washington.

Four slots behind Latham was Ivy Larsen, a new-media aide who is helping Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., expand his online presence.

Barrett, famous for his perfect wardrobe and meticulous grooming, came in at No. 9. He was the highest-ranking of four members of Congress on the Top 50 list of comely lawmakers, aides, lobbyists and other Capitol Hill insiders.

South Carolina is the only state to place three lookers from its congressional delegation and staff among the newspaper’s Top 10.

The three beauties have been taking grief from their colleagues.

"They’ve been giving me an earful," Barrett said. " 'Mr. Beautiful — that’s what they’re calling me."

Asked whether being named to the list will help his quest to become governor, Barrett gave a hearty laugh.

"I'm really flattered," he said. "I've never had anything happen to me before. My wife sent me an e-mail saying I should have been number one."

Barrett wears starched white shirts, dark suits and spit-polish shoes. He buys his clothes at M.H. Frank Limited in Clemson.

"I try to stay up on the latest fashions," he said. "I'm pretty conservative, but I do enjoy a pretty tie."

Barrett said he tells his staff that first impressions are important in Washington. He urges them to keep their shoes shined and their hair trimmed.

At 47, Barrett is among the oldest on a list dominated by 20-somethings.

Barrett, though, is just a pup next to Sen. John Warner. The Virginia Republican and former husband of actress Elizabeth Taylor is the only senator on the list and is its oldest honoree at 81.

A "Most Beautiful Committee" of reporters and editors chose the 50 winners from 400 nominees submitted in response to solicitation ads in The Hill.

Latham had to borrow a black silk cocktail dress and black high heels for The Hill’s formal photo shoot of the Top 10 winners.

"I don’t wear anything that fancy," she said. "I sadly had to give them back to my friend because they were really nice."

Latham's father, a retired Air Force general and former fighter-jet pilot, flew in the Thunderbirds at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. He calls her "Bobbie," for the son he never had.

"I was kind of tomboyish," she said.

An Air Force brat, Latham, 28, was born in Las Vegas and grew up in a half-dozen places, including Japan.

She lived at Shaw Air Force Base near Sumter — where her father commanded an F-16 wing — as a teenager in 1993 and 1994. Her two older sisters live in Charleston and Charlotte.

A cheerleading scholarship helped Latham attend Stephen S. Austin University, a public school in Texas.

Larsen, 26, joined DeMint’s staff last summer. She’s the oldest of 10 children who grew up in Folsom, Calif., outside Sacramento.

Her youngest sibling, a brother, is almost 20 years younger.

Larsen's husband, Shane, a law school student in Washington, confessed to having nominated her for the Top 50 lookers contest.

"It was very sweet of my husband to do it," Larsen said. "He just knew it would embarrass me."

Larsen doesn't see herself as a glamour queen.

"I didn’t grow up doing beauty pageants," she said. "It's not really who I picture myself as."

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