Wayne Gilchrest

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wayne Gilchrest
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2009
Preceded byRoy Dyson
Succeeded byFrank Kratovil
Personal details
Wayne Thomas Gilchrest

(1946-04-15) April 15, 1946 (age 77)
Rahway, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (before 2019)
Democratic (2019–present)[1]
SpouseBarbara Gilchrest
EducationWesley College (AA)
Delaware State University (BA)
Loyola University Maryland
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Marine Corps
Years of service1964–1968
Unit3rd Battalion, 6th Marines
2nd Battalion, 1st Marines[2]
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsPurple Heart
Bronze Star
Navy Commendation Medal
Rep. Gilchrest (second from left) and others join President George W. Bush for the signing of the North American Wetlands Conservation Reauthorization Act.

Wayne Thomas Gilchrest (born April 15, 1946) is an American politician who served as a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives representing Maryland's 1st congressional district. In 2008, Gilchrest was defeated in the Republican primary by State Senator Andy Harris. Following his departure from politics he has worked on environmental education.[3] He is also a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.[4] In 2019, Gilchrest changed his party affiliation to Democratic.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Rahway, New Jersey,[6] Gilchrest was the fourth child of Elizabeth and Arthur Gilchrest's six boys.[7] After graduating high school in 1964, he joined the United States Marine Corps.[8] His tour of duty saw action during the invasion of the Dominican Republic, and later the Vietnam War.[8] He earned the rank of Sergeant in Vietnam where, as a platoon leader, he was wounded in the chest.[8] Gilchrest was decorated with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Navy Commendation Medal.[8] He is a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Military Order of the Purple Heart.[9]

In 1969, he received an associate's degree from Wesley College in Dover, Delaware.[8] He then spent a semester in Kentucky studying rural poverty in Appalachia. He went on to receive a bachelor's degree in history from Delaware State College in 1973.[8] Since then, he has done some work towards a master's degree at Loyola College in Baltimore.[10]


While teaching at Kent County High School on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Gilchrest ran against four-term 1st District Democratic incumbent Roy Dyson in 1988. Dyson was plagued by allegations of improper contributions from defense contractors,[11] questions about his sexual orientation,[12] and the suicide of his top staffer.[13] Despite being badly outspent, Gilchrest lost narrowly to Dyson.[14] He sought a rematch in 1990; this time soundly beating Dyson by 14%. In 1992, he survived a close contest against Tom McMillen, who had represented the 4th District before being drawn into the 1st District. Gilchrest won by only 3%, largely by swamping McMillen on the Eastern Shore. He wouldn't face serious opposition again for over a decade.

Gilchrest broke ranks with his party more often than any other House member in 2007.[15] While Democrats and Republicans were nearly tied in registration in 2006 (183,332 Democrats to 180,856 Republicans[16]), the district had a strong tinge of social conservatism that usually favored Republicans. The 1st had a Cook Partisan Voting Index rating of R+13, indicating that it was a strongly Republican district, and supported President Bush's re-election with over 60% of the vote.

Gilchrest was a member of many moderate Republican groups such as the Republican Main Street Partnership, Republicans for Environmental Protection, and the Republican Majority For Choice.[17] He was also the co-chairman of the Congressional Climate Change Caucus together with Democrat John Olver (MA-1).[18] Gilchrest was a Republican co-sponsor of Rep. Marty Meehan's "Military Readiness Enhancement Act" which would have repealed the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.[19][20] Gilchrest also spoke in favor of same-sex marriage while the Maryland Legislature was considering legalizing it, calling same-sex marriage a matter of "social justice, civil rights and a more viable democracy."[21]

In 1993, Gilchrest was the lone Republican vote in support of a bill that would have created DC Statehood.[22] Aside from his socially liberal stance,[citation needed] Gilchrest has drawn attention for his stance on the Iraq War. Though he initially supported the war,[23] Gilchrest's support waned as the occupation became increasingly violent, expressing his support for the Iraq Study Group Report and called on setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.[24] Gilchrest also joined 16 Republicans and 229 Democrats voting in favor of House Concurrent Resolution (H.CON.RES) 63, a non-binding resolution expressing disapproval for the Iraq War troop surge of 2007.[25][26][27]

2008 election[edit]

Gilchrest's moderate voting record resulted in vigorous primary challenges from Republicans who considered him a Republican in Name Only. However, none were successful until 2008. That year, State Senator Andrew Harris, State Senator E. J. Pipkin, Joe Arminio, and Robert Banks challenged Gilchrest in the 2008 Republican primary. Harris was strongly supported by the Club for Growth.

Harris defeated Gilchrest in the Republican primary, with Pipkin finishing third.[28][29] After Gilchrest's loss in the primary, he broke with his party and endorsed Queen Anne's County State's Attorney Frank Kratovil, the Democratic nominee, in the general election,[30] being quoted as saying, "Let's see, the Republican Party, or my eternal soul?" and "Party loyalty, or integrity?" when questioned.[31] Kratovil won the election.

On September 18, 2008, Gilchrest made radio comments praising the Democratic Presidential ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, causing some media outlets to claim his endorsement of the Democratic ticket.[32] However, Gilchrest quickly clarified these comments, saying that they did not amount to an endorsement.[33] Despite the fact that he did not officially endorse Obama, in an October 2 Washington Post article, Gilchrest sharply criticized his own party and their presidential nominee, fellow Vietnam veteran John McCain. Gilchrest said that the Republican party "has become more narrow, more self-serving, more centered around 'I want, I want, I want.'" and said that McCain "recites memorized pieces of information in a narrow way, whereas Barack Obama is constantly evaluating information, using his judgment. One guy just recites what's in front of him, and the other has initiative and reason and prudence and wisdom."[34] Gilchrest later told WBAL-TV that he voted for Obama in the November election.[35]

Gilchrest was ranked as the House's most liberal Republican in 2008 (his final term) by the National Journal, placing him to the left of 8 House Democrats.[36]

Committee and caucus membership[edit]

  • Committee on Natural Resources
    • Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans (Chairman 2001–2007)
  • Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
    • Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
    • Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
    • Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
  • Founder and Co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force
  • Co-founder and Co-chair of the Congressional Climate Change Caucus
  • Co-chair of the House Oceans Caucus
  • Chairman of the House Corps Reform Caucus
  • Co-founder and Co-chair of the House Organic Caucus
  • Co-founder and Co-chair of the House Dialogue Caucus
  • Board member of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).[37]

Election history[edit]

Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1990 Congress, 1st district General Wayne Gilchrest Republican 88,920 56.84 Roy Dyson Democratic 67,518 43.16
1992 Congress, 1st district General Wayne Gilchrest Republican 120,084 51.27 Tom McMillen Democratic 112,771 48.15
1994 Congress, 1st district General Wayne Gilchrest Republican 120,975 67.65 Ralph Gies Democratic 57,712 32.27
1996 Congress, 1st district General Wayne Gilchrest Republican 131,033 61.55 Steven Eastaugh Democratic 81,825 38.44
1998 Congress, 1st district General Wayne Gilchrest Republican 135,771 69.19 Irving Pinder Democratic 60,450 30.81
2000 Congress, 1st district General Wayne Gilchrest Republican 165,293 64.4 Bennett Bozman Democratic 91,022 35.46
2002 Congress, 1st district General Wayne Gilchrest Republican 192,004 76.67 Ann Tamlyn Democratic 57,986 23.16
2004 Congress, 1st district General Wayne Gilchrest Republican 245,149 75.77 Kostas Alexakis Democratic 77,872 24.07
2006 Congress, 1st district General Wayne Gilchrest Republican 185,353 68.80 Jim Corwin Democratic 83,817 31.11
2008 Congress, 1st district Primary Wayne Gilchrest Republican 23,797 33.08 Andy Harris Republican 31,180 43.34


  1. ^ Rodricks, Dan (February 1, 2020). "Former GOP Congressman: 'Republicans Have Thrown Acid on the Constitution'". The Baltimore Sun.
  2. ^ "Wayne Thomas Gilchrest Collection: Veterans History Project (American Folklife Center, Library of Congress)". Memory.loc.gov. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  3. ^ MacGillis, Alec (September 29, 2009). "Former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest Finds New Constituents in Maryland Kids". Washington Post. Washington DC. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  4. ^ "Issue One – ReFormers Caucus". Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  5. ^ Rodricks, Dan (February 2020). "Former GOP congressman: 'Republicans have thrown acid on the Constitution' | COMMENTARY". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  6. ^ "Passionate Gilchrest follows his own path". The Baltimore Sun. 18 September 2000. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  7. ^ Fairhall, John (4 January 1991). "Gilchrest takes it easy on first day Agenda includes moving in, bidding for panel seats". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Fairhall, John (31 October 1990). "Gilchrest always does things his own way". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  9. ^ "Wayne Gilchrest- Republican". WBOC. Retrieved 2020-09-25.
  10. ^ Wayne Gilchrest biography. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved Oct 18, 2007 Archived September 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "The Bulletin – Google News Archive Search". google.com. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  12. ^ "Gainesville Sun – Google News Archive Search". google.com. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  13. ^ "The Milwaukee Sentinel – Google News Archive Search". google.com. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  14. ^ Barone, Michael; Ujifusa, Grant (1999). The Almanac of American Politics 2000. National Journal Group Inc. p. 745.
  15. ^ Party Unity Scores Archived 2008-02-12 at the Wayback Machine CQ Politics. Retrieved September 26, 2008
  17. ^ "Meet Our..." Archived 2008-09-21 at the Wayback Machine Republican Majority for Choice. Retrieved September 28, 2008
  18. ^ Climate Change Caucus Members John Olver's Congressional Website. Retrieved September 28, 2008
  19. ^ "Meehan Seeks To Overturn 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'" The Politico, February 7, 2007
  20. ^ "Bill Summary & Status – 110th Congress (2007–2008) – H.R.1246 – THOMAS (Library of Congress)". loc.gov. Archived from the original on 2015-10-19. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  21. ^ "Wayne Gilchrest". www.equalitymaryland.org. Retrieved 19 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ AYRES, B. DRUMMOND (11 November 1993). "House Soundly Defeats a Proposal On District of Columbia Statehood". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  23. ^ Gilchrest Votes for Use of Force Against Iraq Archived 2007-11-01 at the Wayback Machine Congressman Gilchrest's Official Website, October 10, 2002
  24. ^ "Congressman Gilchrest's Statement on Iraq (as of May 2006)" Archived 2007-11-01 at the Wayback Machine Congressman Gilchrest's Official Website, Retrieved September 28, 2008
  25. ^ "Gilchrest Statement on Iraq Resolution" Archived 2007-11-01 at the Wayback Machine Congressman Gilchrest's Official Website, February 22, 2007
  26. ^ H. CON. RES. 63 Archived 2007-03-20 at the Wayback Machine THOMAS. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  27. ^ Roll Call No. 99 Office of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved on September 28, 2008
  28. ^ "Maryland Primary Election Results". The Washington Post.
  29. ^ "News From The Associated Press". ap.org. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  30. ^ Gilchrest crosses party lines, endorses Democrat Kratovil, even cutting an ad for him (baltimoresun.com)[dead link]
  31. ^ Edge, Wally (2008-02-29). "Top Gilchrest staffer kicks-off 'Republicans for Kratovil'". Politicker MD. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
  32. ^ "Republican congressman endorses Obama". POLITICO. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  33. ^ "Gilchrest Says Radio Comments Were Not Endorsement of Obama" CQ Politics, September 18, 2008.
  34. ^ "Gilchrest Unloads on Know-Nothing Pols and the Rest of Us", Washington Post, October 2, 2008.
  35. ^ Gilchrest 'Happy' To Retire (WBAL-TV) on YouTube
  36. ^ National Journal – The Centrists Archived 2009-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ "Staff and Board". NIAC. Archived from the original on 2020-01-22. Retrieved 2018-04-05.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative