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February 20, 2008

Two Good Men Were Defeated

Tom McLaughlin

Wayne T. Gilchrest, of the 1st Congressional District on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, was just tired. I think George Bush and his cronies wore him down to the point that he didn’t care whether he was re-elected or not.

Most people on the Shore understood his tired eyes, unresponsive attitude and lackluster speeches. He was also tired of sleeping in his Capital Hill office to save money, or he hated the two hour drive back to his farm.

He was elected after the Dyson sex scandal and was a combination of ‘”Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “The Absent Minded Professor.” Much was made that he was a house painter. On the Shore, teachers were often hired during the summer to supplement their meager incomes to paint classrooms, buildings and other education structures. He also painted houses. This was the norm and not an aberration.

Wayne was more a Democrat than a Republican and voted mostly his conscience, a rarity in this political world. His re-elections were always by margins in the 50-60 percentiles, and he did a good job of stewardship for our Chesapeake Bay. I hope he goes back to teaching high school to inspire others of an up-and-coming generation to seek public service. I also hope he will see the wisdom and join the Democratic Party where he belongs.

Andrew Duck of Maryland’s 6th also went down to defeat in a huge surprise. I remember when a group of us got together in Bonita Currey’s teahouse in Middletown four years ago and encouraged him to run. Untold hours of planning, fund raising and leg work went into his campaign. Andrew studied the issues, formulated position papers and had a great presence. He was much more a congressman than all of the Eastern Shore contenders combined. But it was not to be.

Jennifer Dougherty and her supporters systematically and methodically worked the phones. She spent untold hours talking with voters, listening and asking them to spread the word. She also had one or two mass mailings to every soul on the Democrats’ list. She did not have the endorsements of the party’s big wigs, nor was she endorsed by any newspaper of note. Andrew had all of those wrapped up. If there ever was a “little engine that could,” she did, one voter at a time.

I always thought phone calls were a waste of money and time. I always thought people hated them especially during dinner. But according to some of the Dougherty folks, during this climate, people are willing to listen and want somebody to talk to them about their candidate.

Andy Harris, the king of money and “nabobs of negativism” blanketed the Shore in a fist fight with his other Republican rivals. He will match up with yet unseasoned Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Frank Kratovil. He looks like he is 19, but by November will have aged in experience and wisdom after dealing with Andy Harris, who is expected to pour millions into his campaign.

I for one will be manning the phones for Mr. Kratovil, and when I am up here (dividing my time between Middletown and Ocean City) for Jennifer. The people want change from the hard hitting tactics of Andy Harris and the ol’ foggie, Roscoe Bartlett. They will be blown out on the wave of the Democratic Nor’easter coming this November.

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