WASHINGTON – Democrat Ralph Gies closed last year’s failed election bid against Rep. Wayne Gilchrest $27,241 in debt.
Gies, a 70-year-old accountant from Gambrills, said he’ll most likely absorb the financial losses, unless he runs for Congress again and throws more fund-raisers.
“There’s no way that I know of how to recoup” the losses otherwise, the Anne Arundel County resident said.
A report recently filed with the Federal Election Commission shows he raised about $21,200 last year – about $11,100 through personal contributions and another $10,100 from personal loans he made to the campaign.
Gies’ only fund-raiser last year – a bull roast – attracted almost no one and lost money, he said. He prepared for 200 people, he said, but only about 50 showed up.
He said he gave away most of the extra food to a food kitchen in Baltimore.
Gies, a polio victim, wondered aloud whether his illness may have adversely affected his campaign. Polio “slows me down,” he said. “I can’t get into buildings … so I get stuck in a chair in the corner.
“I sort of wonder what image I create when I show up as a cripple.”
Last year’s campaign in the 1st District was Gies’ second attempt at a congressional seat. He said he wasn’t sure how much debt his 1992 campaign incurred, but added he paid for most of that write-in campaign himself.
Gilchrest, a 48-year-old Republican from Kennedyville, finished his campaign last year with no debt and about $9,300 in the bank, his FEC report shows.
He raised almost all of his money through personal contributions. FEC records show the three-time incumbent amassed $82,240 in individual donations in 1994.
He reported accepting no special interest, or political action committee, money to win the 1994 election, fulfilling a 1993 pledge. Gies also reported no PAC contributions.
Tony Caligiuri, an administrative assistant for Gilchrest, said the “decision not to take PAC money was a response to growing public concern over the influence of [the] money in campaigns.
“It’s much easier to raise $100,000 in PAC money than to raise that in your own district,” he said.
He added voters are concerned about politicians becoming more responsive to special interest groups than to the voters when legislators accept PAC money.
Gilchrest outspent Gies last year about $95,500 to about $20,000.
Gilchrest won all 10 of the district’s Eastern Shore counties and its sliver of Baltimore City on his way to winning 68 percent of the general election vote.