Gitsham among possible CA GOP Congressional ‘Young Guns’

CA GOPCampaign funding from the national level could flow to California Republicans hoping to land a seat in Congress on election day. “Four Republican candidates running for open or Democratic-held House seats in California are ‘on the radar’ for spots in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s ‘Young Guns’ program, which offers support to candidates,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Fresh faces

Three have come from the private sector, with two making their political debut. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, will draw a challenge from trauma surgeon N. Eugene Cleek, although, according to Roll Call, Garamendi’s district has been marked safe, the Times added.

And in a race drawing some national attention, San Diego businesswoman Denise Gitsham, who boasts significant work experience in Washington, announced her candidacy two weeks ago against Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego. Last year, Peters edged out San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio by just four points, raising hopes among Republicans of a pickup this time around.

DeMaio notably re-teamed last month with former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed on a new ballot initiative aimed at threading the needle of popular support for public pension reform. The effort would trim benefits “only for future employees, thereby leaving the promises made to current workers untouched,” as the Sacramento Bee reported in October. “The measures also appeal to Californians who, according to a recent survey by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, strongly support the idea of controlling pension benefits for new hires via the ballot box.” He has not opted to try again against Peters, whose district Roll Call has also marked safe.

An unusual profile


Campaign Photo: Denise Gitsham

Gitsham, however, has mustered a level of support of a different quality and quantity than Peters might have anticipated. “The daughter of a Chinese mother who immigrated through Taiwan, and a Canadian-born father who moved to New Jersey and spent 20 years in the Air Force,” Gitsham, as U-T San Diego noted, wound up in Texas, where she worked for Karl Rove to elect George W. Bush president. “She then gained a post in the White House and worked for Harriet Miers, the president’s counsel and one-time Supreme Court nominee,” the paper added. “Gitsham later graduated from law school at Georgetown University and practiced in Washington with a K Street firm.”

In addition to a resume relatively distinctive in current state Republican politics, Gitsham has amassed some notable numbers in the early race to fundraise. (She will face a primary challenge from former Marine Jacquie Atkinson.) In a press release and on Facebook, Gitsham’s campaign trumpeted its haul of $100,000 in its first week. “It’s clear people want a fresh face in Congress and they are responding to my candidacy,” Gitsham said. “There’s a lot of work to do but I’m really encouraged by our start.”

Precarious positioning

Despite Peters’ safe rating, data collected by the NRCC has indicated that Gitsham’s campaign appears to be a good bet this election season. “Recent polling by the National Republican Congressional Committee shows that incumbent Scott Peters is one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country,” as Gitsham’s release went on. “Only 34 percent of voters believe Peters deserves reelection, while 46 percent want someone new.”

One indication of Peters’ political position, according to analysts, was his willingness to side with Republicans and vote for the so-called SAFE Act, designed to tighten screening for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. “The administration has not made the case to me that today’s bill will shut down or unduly delay our existing process,” Peters said in a statement, according to KQED News. “It is not too burdensome for federal agencies to certify that admitted refugees will not endanger our communities.” San Diego has already become home for one of the state’s biggest communities of Syrian refugees, observed KQED.

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