Leaving Wayne's World


With 98 percent of the votes counted, it looks like Maryland Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, one of a small handful of antiwar Republicans in Congress, has been defeated by the Cockeysville conservative Andy Harris. (Gilchrest's other major challenger, E.J. "Rupert" Pipkin, finished third.) Harris had been endorsed by the anti-tax, anti-spending Club for Growth because of his "consistent track record of fighting for limited government and pro-growth policies." Unfortunately, Harris' "consistent track record" includes his support for an unnecessary war that has already cost over $1 trillion. I have plenty of problems with the incumbent's economic record, but on the most important issue related to fiscal conservatism in the last 10 years, Gilchrest has been right and Harris has been wrong.

It's far from certain that Harris will be able to defeat Democrat Frank Kratovil. The Dems will pour money into taking the district now that their sometime-ally Gilchrest is out of the picture; and Harris, who lives on the western side of the Chesapeake, will have a hard time attracting votes from the Eastern Shore.

The country faces an ugly choice this November: Either elect a Republican president and reaffirm the Bush foreign policy, or elect a Democrat and put both the White House and Congress in the hands of the same party. If the First District of Maryland turns against one of Washington's few antiwar Republicans and then hands his seat to a Democrat, it will have somehow managed to embrace the worst of both worlds.

Elsewhere in Reason: Dave Weigel interviewed Gilchrest last May, and he looked at the congressman's primary fight yesterday.