Red Maryland Exclusive:National Review Weighs in GOP Race in CD1

The GOP primary in Maryland’s first congressional district is heating up. Wayne Gilchrest, Andy Harris, and EJ Pipkin are saturating the radio and television airwaves with ads and the Club for Growth has thrown its weight against Gilchrest with its own package of ads.

And now National Review is following the race. John J. Miller has a piece in the upcoming February 11 issue: The Sierra Club Congressman: will conservatives revolt against Rep. Wayne Gilchrest? Red Maryland readers may remember John from his National Review article concerning Carroll County’s plan to place part of the proposed Union Mills Reservoir on a portion of the historic Whittaker Chambers Farm. The article will be available online to NR digital subscribers Friday afternoon.

I’ve said on many occasions you should subscribe to National Review, after all the American conservative movement begins with William F. Buckley and National Review.

Here are few brief exclusive excerpts:

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National Right to Life, Eagle Forum, and the Washington Times editorial page have endorsed Harris, and so have two-time gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey and 18 current members of the Maryland legislature. His most prominent backer is former governor Bob Ehrlich, who once served with Gilchrest in the House…

Conservatives frequently point to Gilchrest’s flame-throwing interview with last May, in which he tried to explain the Republican woes of 2006 and beyond: “I think the GOP was dissolving. Now it’s drying up and the wind’s going to blow it away. I just don’t think we have the depth of knowledge, intellect, and experience necessary for a viable political party anymore…” [emphasis mine].

The worry among many conservatives is that because there’s no runoff, Harris and Pipkin will divide a large anti-Gilchrest vote and award the congressman a new term that most of the Republicans in his district would prefer to deny him. Yet incumbents don’t always survive three-way races: Two years ago, Alaska governor Frank Murkowski, a Republican, finished behind two challengers in a GOP primary. In December, a Club for Growth survey found Harris’s support at 26 percent, Gilchrest’s at 23 percent, and Pipkin’s at 18 percent.

And there is this head scratcher from Gilchrest: “The debate over liberal versus conservative is bizarre when it comes to competent public policy,” says Gilchrest. “I think I’m a liberal like Gorbachev is a liberal — he wanted to bring freedom to his country. I don’t follow a mythical, purist ideology.”

I don’t proclaim to know how this race will turn out, but I can tell you this, Gilchrest isn’t going to endear himself to conservatives comparing himself to Gorbachev.

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