A little research and other First District stuff

So what is the advantage of incumbency? In Wayne Gilchrest’s case, it’s pretty good. I decided to do a little bit of digging into election results because I was curious about something.

What I looked up was the performance of Wayne Gilchrest vs. both of his challengers who have made previous runs for office, Andy Harris and E.J. Pipkin. It’s somewhat of a more valid comparison with Pipkin since his district is enveloped by the First District while Andy Harris’s district runs into a little more Democrat-friendly territory in Baltimore County.

The methodology is relatively simple; county-by-county results for the contenders in the last three elections. Pipkin ran on the same ballot as Gilchrest in all three (2002, 2004, 2006) while Harris and Gilchrest shared the election in 2002 and 2006. One can argue that Pipkin came in as a new face in 2002, but subsequent elections should have eliminated that factor.

I’ll start with Gilchrest vs. Pipkin. There are four counties in Pipkin’s District 36; Caroline, Cecil (both of which are shared with other districts but still solidly GOP country), Kent, and Queen Anne’s. Here’s their shares in each county, by election:

Trending: Candidate Survey: Chris Chaffee for US Senate

Caroline County:

2002: Gilchrest 80.9%, Pipkin 62.8%
2004: Gilchrest 79.7%, Pipkin 48.9%
2006: Gilchrest 70.4%, Pipkin 65.0%

Cecil County:

2002: Gilchrest 72.1%, Pipkin 58.9%
2004: Gilchrest 72.9%, Pipkin 51.3%
2006: Gilchrest 65.1%, Pipkin 57.1%

Kent County:

2002: Gilchrest 80.8%, Pipkin 58.7%
2004: Gilchrest 79.5%, Pipkin 42.5%
2006: Gilchrest 72.1%, Pipkin 60.9%

Queen Anne’s County:

2002: Gilchrest 80.6%, Pipkin 66.8%
2004: Gilchrest 80.1%, Pipkin 55.5%
2006: Gilchrest 73.0%, Pipkin 69.7%

It’s obvious that Pipkin has cut what was once a 13 to 22 point deficit down to between 3 and 11 points in each county, which bodes well for his challenge in his home area. However, that increase is tempered by the fact that it’s mostly in voter share lost by Gilchrest rather than a large Pipkin gain.

Now let’s look at Gilchrest vs. Harris. Again, this is a bit more skewed since Andy’s area overlaps into other Congressional districts.

Baltimore County:

2002: Gilchrest 76.7%, Harris 56.2%
2006: Gilchrest 69.9%, Harris 55.8%

Harford County:

2002: Gilchrest 75.8%, Harris 62.3%
2006: Gilchrest 70.6%, Harris 58.6%

This trend is a bit more troublesome for Harris as he continued to trail Gilchrest by 12-14 points in his home area. However, the district overlap may play into the deficit so this guide’s not as useful for Harris as it is for Pipkin.

I did get wind of a poll that had Harris down a few points to Gilchrest before E.J. Pipkin jumped in, with both candidates’ numbers in the 40’s. (The spread was right around the margin of error.) The scuttlebutt that was going around at the convention was that Pipkin was getting into this race to secure the GOP nomination for Gilchrest, who would then announce that this would be his final term and endorse Pipkin as his successor in 2010. Planted rumor or not, it has some plausibility considering the timing of Pipkin’s entry.

And then we come to the next subject: Courtesy of Politicker MD, their “Quote of The Day”:

“I only accept contributions from people who can vote for me, and I wish every member of Congress subscribed to that.”

– Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, 08/25/02

“After the last finance report, when we realized the Club for Growth was going to dump hundreds of thousands of dollars into this race, it wouldn’t be a fair fight. He’s taking PAC money, money from all over the country. We have to fundraise as aggressively as Andy Harris.”

– Gilchrest campaign manager Tony Caligiuri 12/03/07

That was 7-8 points ago for Wayne. If you’d like to see a copy of the new Wayne Gilchrest “I now take PAC money” invitation, click here.

The Daily Times also weighed in today (besides the Politicker MD quote) with a story by Joe Gidjunis that seemed to give the “everyone else is doing it” excuse on Wayne’s behalf. It seems to me that the Club For Growth was involved in the ’02 GOP primary election here as well but obviously the poll numbers weren’t as tight for Wayne that time.

With the deep pockets of E.J. Pipkin now involved, this race might be the first local race to spend millions for the Congressional seat – certainly it will set a record by primary day.

Crossposted on monoblogue.

Send this to a friend