Bilbray's aide moves into Sen. Snowe's press shop

Two years ago, when Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) began his campaign to return to Congress, his press secretary, Kurt Bardella, 24, never envisioned that two years later he would join the staff of the GOP senior senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe. His first day in the senator’s office is Wednesday.

“It’s amazing how things turn out,” Bardella said.  “Two years ago, I never would have imagined that I’d leave San Diego for D.C., never mind the idea of working for a senator from Maine. I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to do something I love at such an early age.”

When ex-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) left Congress amid scandal, Bilbray ran for his seat. But the whole process required Bardella to help Bilbray survive four elections in seven months. There was the special primary election, the special election, the June primary and the general election in November. Following Bilbray’s win, Bardella moved to Washington and helped him become a national figure in the illegal immigration debate. The lawmaker became a fixture on programs such as CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” and “Fox News Live.”

“It was really amazing coming here — I had never stepped foot in Washington before until my first day on the job,” he said. “A little more than a year later, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with extraordinary people that shape the world we live in. The reason why I love doing press so much is because I truly believe that nothing is more powerful than shaping public perception on public policy issues.

“You can’t really get any farther apart [than] going from California to Maine,” added Bardella when asked about his switch. “Weather and geography aside, I am looking forward to the challenge.”