Wayne Gilchrest

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Wayne Gilchrest
Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland, official portrait.jpg
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 73)
Rahway, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Barbara Gilchrest
ResidenceKennedyville, Maryland[1]
Alma materWesley College, Delaware State University
Occupationhigh school teacher
AwardsPurple Heart
Bronze Star
Navy Commendation Medal
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1964–1968
Unit3rd Battalion 6th Marines
2nd Battalion 1st Marines[2]
Battles/warsVietnam War

Wayne Thomas Gilchrest (born April 15, 1946) is a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives who represented Maryland's 1st congressional district. In 2008, the moderate 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]

Early life[edit]

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

Rep. Gilchrest (second from left) and others join President George W. Bush for the signing of the North American Wetlands Conservation Reauthorization Act.

In 1969, he received an associate's degree from Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. 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. Since then, he has done some work towards a master's degree at Loyola College in Baltimore.[5]

Congressional career[edit]

While teaching at Kent County High School on the Eastern Shore, Gilchrest ran against four-term 1st District Democratic incumbent Roy Dyson in 1988. Dyson was plagued by allegations of improper contributions from defense contractors,[6] questions about his sexual orientation,[7] and the suicide of his top staffer.[8] Despite being badly outspent, Gilchrest lost narrowly to Dyson.[9] 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 is a moderate Republican, and he broke ranks with his party more often than any other House member in 2007.[10] While Democrats and Republicans are nearly tied in registration (183,332 Democrats to 180,856 Republicans[11]), the district has a strong tinge of social conservatism that usually favors Republicans. The 1st has a Cook Partisan Voting Index rating of R+13, indicating that it is a strongly Republican district, and supported President Bush's re-election with over 60% of the vote.

Gilchrest is a member of many moderate Republican groups such as the Republican Main Street Partnership, Republicans for Environmental Protection, and the Republican Majority For Choice.[12] He was also the co-chairman of the Congressional Climate Change Caucus together with Democrat John Olver (MA-1).[13] 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.[14][15] 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."[16][17]

In 1993, Gilchrest was the lone Republican vote in support of a bill that would have created DC Statehood.[18] Aside from his socially moderate stance, Gilchrest has drawn attention for his stance on the Iraq War. Though he initially supported the war,[19] 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.[20] 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.[21][22][23]

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.[24][25] 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,[26] being quoted as saying, "Let's see, the Republican Party, or my eternal soul?" and "Party loyalty, or integrity?" when questioned.[27] 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.[28] However, Gilchrest quickly clarified these comments, saying that they did not amount to an endorsement.[29] 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."[30] Gilchrest later told WBAL-TV that he voted for Obama in the November election.[31]

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.[32]

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

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 Thomas 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. ^ Barone, Michael; Ujifusa, Grant (1999). The Almanac of American Politics 2000. National Journal Group Inc. p. 746.
  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. ^ https://www.issueone.org/reformers/#reformer-full-list
  5. ^ Wayne Gilchrest biography. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved Oct 18, 2007 Archived September 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "The Bulletin – Google News Archive Search". google.com. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Gainesville Sun – Google News Archive Search". google.com. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  8. ^ "The Milwaukee Sentinel – Google News Archive Search". google.com. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  9. ^ Barone, Michael; Ujifusa, Grant (1999). The Almanac of American Politics 2000. National Journal Group Inc. p. 745.
  10. ^ Party Unity Scores Archived 2008-02-12 at the Wayback Machine CQ Politics. Retrieved September 26, 2008
  11. ^ http://www.elections.state.md.us/pdf/vrar/2006_general_stats.pdf
  12. ^ "Meet Our..." Archived 2008-09-21 at the Wayback Machine Republican Majority for Choice. Retrieved September 28, 2008
  13. ^ Climate Change Caucus Members John Olver's Congressional Website. Retrieved September 28, 2008
  14. ^ "Meehan Seeks To Overturn 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'" The Politico, February 7, 2007
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "Wayne Gilchrest". www.equalitymaryland.org. Retrieved 19 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ http://www.marylandpolitics.us/archives/category/wayne-gilchrest. Retrieved August 21, 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Gilchrest Votes for Use of Force Against Iraq Archived 2007-11-01 at the Wayback Machine Congressman Gilchrest's Official Website, October 10, 2002
  20. ^ "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
  21. ^ "Gilchrest Statement on Iraq Resolution" Archived 2007-11-01 at the Wayback Machine Congressman Gilchrest's Official Website, February 22, 2007
  22. ^ H. CON. RES. 63 THOMAS. Retrieved September 28, 2008.
  23. ^ Roll Call No. 99 Office of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved on September 28, 2008
  24. ^ "Maryland Primary Election Results". The Washington Post.
  25. ^ "News From The Associated Press". ap.org. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  26. ^ Gilchrest crosses party lines, endorses Democrat Kratovil, even cutting an ad for him (baltimoresun.com)[dead link]
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "Republican congressman endorses Obama". POLITICO. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  29. ^ "Gilchrest Says Radio Comments Were Not Endorsement of Obama" CQ Politics, September 18, 2008.
  30. ^ "Gilchrest Unloads on Know-Nothing Pols and the Rest of Us", Washington Post, October 2, 2008.
  31. ^ Gilchrest 'Happy' To Retire (WBAL-TV) on YouTube
  32. ^ National Journal – The Centrists Archived 2009-02-03 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

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

January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2009
Succeeded by
Frank Kratovil