There aren’t many state politicians whose resume also includes body-building, modeling and being a WWE ring girl. But Themis Klarides, who is also a lawyer and Connecticut’s Republican House Minority Leader, says she’s never been “a traditional anything.” She got into body-building and modeling competitions through a chance encounter at her gym while studying for the bar exam. Later, Klarides entered politics in somewhat the same way: A seat opened up in her district and a friend suggested she run. She figured, why not? “I always say I’m the accidental fill-in-the-blank,” she says. “I’ve always had lots of interests. I love the law, I love being in shape and healthy.”
For much of her nearly 20-year career in the statehouse, Klarides has been an advocate for domestic violence victims. Lately, she’s pushed for structural reforms to Connecticut’s ailing budget. In 2017, as the state went an unprecedented 123 days without a budget, Klarides was key in implementing reforms. The result: a bipartisan spending plan that fully funded state pensions, restored many of the cuts to the state university system and imposed constitutional spending caps on state expenses.