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House Hopeful Keeping Bush, Rove in Her Back Pocket

Denise Gitsham, the latest Republican to declare for the congressional seat currently held by California Democrat Scott Peters, is committed to standing on her own two feet — for now. “This is my first time being a candidate … and it's exhilarating!” the nascent candidate, who worked for the Bush-Cheney campaign and the second Bush administration, told CQ Roll Call about her inaugural House bid. Her career track includes a pivotal stint on Capitol Hill; she enjoyed a front seat to history courtesy of the heavy lifting done by then-Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo). “I was a law clerk on Senate Judiciary, working for Sen. Specter (when he was Chairman) on Chief Justice Roberts' confirmation,” Gitsham related via email of the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Gitsham declined to draw lines in the sand between her and fellow GOP challenger Jacquie Atkinson, stressing that her sights are set specifically on the two-term lawmaker currently in power. “My focus isn't on Jacquie — it's on beating Congressman Peters, who is one of, if not the most vulnerable Democrat in Congress. I'll do that by sharing my vision for new leadership in Congress, not by comparing myself to the others who are in the race,” she asserted. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the contest as Safe Democratic. The newly minted candidate mapped out plans to chip away at that supposed job security by standing up for small-business owners (she has co-founded two boutique communications shops) and pledging to bring “common sense, decency and collaboration back to Washington … every single day that I’m in Congress.” When the time is right, she may even call on those ex-bosses of hers for support. (CQ Roll Call File Photo) “I haven't discussed my plans to run with either Mr. Rove or the President,” she shared, adding that it’s certainly possible President George W. Bush wouldn’t remember her anymore. (CQ Roll Call File Photo) “It's been so long since I worked in his administration, and was one of thousands!” she estimated. Still, it never hurts to have friends in formerly high places. “Once I get off the ground, I'll reach out to both to ask for their help,” Gitsham said. “But for now, it's nose to the grindstone working with the people of my district to garner support.” Related: Rove Aide Enters Race Against Scott Peters Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.