WASHINGTON – The 1st District Democratic challenger is again twisting the truth, a spokesman for Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest said Thursday.
In an interview Wednesday, Democrat Steven Eastaugh accused Gilchrest of missing 10 candidates’ debates.
“He’s missed six of six in Anne Arundel County and four of 10 on the Eastern Shore,” Eastaugh said. “The guy totally disrespects voters.”
But representatives with many of the organizations Eastaugh cited said they had not and were not planning to sponsor debates between the congressman and his challenger. Another said a university club sponsored a debate, but Gilchrest never promised to come.
Tony Caligiuri, Gilchrest’s staff director, said only two of six debates agreed to by both campaigns have occurred. He said the congressman attended a Kent County High School debate Oct. 18 and a debate aired on WSCL radio in Salisbury on Monday.
Gilchrest plans to attend the other four, Caligiuri said.
“I’m not a psychiatrist, so I could not make a definite analysis that he’s a pathological liar,” Caligiuri said of Eastaugh. “But he has a propensity to say anything – anything he can possibly think of – without any regard to the truth.
“I’ve run campaigns on every level, from county council to the Senate to presidential,” he added. “And I have never seen any candidate so disconnected with reality.”
The disagreements include:
* Eastaugh said Gilchrest was a no-show at separate debates sponsored by the Annapolis Chamber of Commerce and Anne Arundel Community College. Employees with both organizations said debates were never scheduled between the candidates.
* Eastaugh said Gilchrest missed separate debates with the Annapolis Senior Center, the American Association of Retired Persons, the League of Women Voters and the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. But a staffer at the Annapolis Senior Center said those groups and others sponsored one forum at the center on Oct. 21. There were not four separate events. Eastaugh and a Gilchrest representative attended the forum.
* Eastaugh said Gilchrest missed a “debate” at the O’Malley Senior Center in Odenton. Organizers said the Sept. 9 function was an ice cream social. “We invited the candidates from the 1st, 3rd and 5th districts to introduce themselves, say what district they’re from and what they expect to accomplish” in office, said Ann Marie Remillard, director of the center. Gilchrest could not attend the event because of a scheduling conflict, Remillard said.
Eastaugh also said Gilchrest missed debates sponsored by the Crofton Chamber of Commerce and Salisbury State University’s Republican Club.
Sheila Schneider, co-chairwoman of the Crofton event, confirmed she had expected Gilchrest at the Oct. 17 forum at the Crofton Country Club. She said she didn’t find out he was not coming until the Friday before.
But Robert Yost, president of the Wicomico County Republican Club, said Gilchrest never committed to the rally and half-hour debate at Salisbury State University Oct. 17.
The tenth debate sponsor that Eastaugh cited, the Maryland Women’s Professional Association, could not be reached.
Gilchrest staffers said that by making no distinction between scheduled debates and invited appearances before certain groups, Eastaugh has inflated the number of planned appearances between himself and the congressman.
“The congressman’s office gets requests all the time,” said Cathy Bassett, Gilchrest’s press secretary. “He responds to events that fit into the congressman’s schedule.
“We agreed to six debates and we’ll do six debates,” she added. “That’s probably more than most of the Maryland delegation and it’s certainly more than the presidential race.”
Earlier in the campaign, Eastaugh distributed literature emphasizing the Eastern Shore’s need for a native congressman. The pamphlet listed his birthplace as Cambridge. Eastaugh later acknowledged he was born in Cambridge, Mass. -30-