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Maryland: Harris Woos Moderate Main Street Partnership

In a trip to Washington, D.C., last week, state Sen. Andy Harris met with the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership with the hopes of snagging the endorsement of the group, which supported his opponent last month, vanquished Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R), in the 1st district GOP primary.

The group’s president, former Rep. Charles Bass (N.H.), said Tuesday that the group plans to endorse Harris as the Republican nominee in the general election, but it appears that Gilchrest’s own endorsement of Harris will not be so forthcoming.

Harris beat Gilchrest by touting his conservative credentials in a bruising campaign that has left some observers wondering if Gilchrest might endorse the moderate Democratic nominee, Queen Anne County State’s Attorney Frank Kratovil, who is claiming to be the ideological heir to Gilchrest. A top aide to Gilchrest already has begun to organize fundraisers targeted at “Republicans for Kratovil.”

Although he said Tuesday that he hasn’t talked to either Harris or Kratovil about an endorsement, Gilchrest said he’d like to administer a test to the two men to examine their knowledge of various international, economic, environmental and social issues so he can determine who is best suited to represent the people of the 1st district.

Included in that test would be questions about the history of the Middle East over the past 200 years, the economic and ecological history of the Chesapeake Bay, the importance of paying attention to unemployment and various other subjects, Gilchrest said.

“I will endorse someone that has knowledge, integrity, is competent and sees the world in a panoramic manner in all its complexities and not through a bent straw,” Gilchrest said.

Citing a retired Marine Corps general who has been highly critical of the Bush administration’s decision to go to Iraq, Gilchrest went on to say that “we must stop promoting incompetence in return for party loyalty.”

Harris’ campaign manager, Chris Meekins, said Tuesday that Harris has reached out to Gilchrest and would be happy to meet with the Congressman.

In the meantime, Meekins said, “the voters clearly spoke. They wanted a change and now they have a choice between the Democratic philosophy and Republican philosophy and we’re excited and know the voters will make the right choice.”
— John McArdle

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