WASHINGTON – Rep. Wayne Gilchrest continued to widen his fund-raising lead on state Sen. Richard Colburn in the 1st District GOP primary, but a Colburn campaign official said there are still months left to raise money and get their message out.
Colburn’s campaign plans to raise more money, in what is shaping up as one of the few congressional primaries in Maryland this year, but is “not expecting to be able to outspend a seven-term incumbent,” said campaign manager Peter Foster. He said the campaign would rely instead on Colburn’s appeal to conservative voters to win the race.
Gilchrest staffers also said they think fund raising is important, but that it will not be the deciding issue in the 1st District primary.
“We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the campaign,” said Tony Caligiuri, Gilchrest’s congressional chief of staff. “We take it seriously, but with a sense of humor.”
In his latest report to Federal Election Commission, Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, reported raising $75,987 from July through September, bringing his total this year to $209,840. He had $150,655 in the bank as of Sept. 30, according to the FEC.
Colburn, R-Dorchester, reported raising $45,190 in the third quarter of this year, bringing his total so far to $78,590. At the close of the quarter, Colburn reported that he had $25,501 in the bank.
Foster said Colburn stands by his statement this summer that he would try to raise $500,000 for his primary bid. He pointed out that there are months left until the March primary and that the campaign expects more money to flow in before the end of the year.
But Gilchrest’s last Republican challenger, conservative David Fischer, spent more than $566,000 on a failed primary bid in 2002. Political analysts predicted that Colburn would be the latest of the “sacrificial lambs” backed by conservative Republicans who view Gilchrest as “not conservative enough.”
“It’s a redux of the last election,” said Larry Harris, a principal with Mason-Dixon Polling and Research. He said Gilchrest is a “perennial target of the right.”
While Colburn can expect support from the right, Gilchrest is in a fairly safe seat as a “moderate, well-thought of . . . member of Congress,” who has also been a successful legislator.
Patrick Gonzales, president of Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies said Tuesday that his company has not done any polls on the 1st District race, and it probably will not conduct any for this election.
“It’s tough to beat an incumbent in any election,” Gonzales said.
But Foster said he is confident that Colburn’s conservative record on gun rights, abortion and business issues will resonate with voters.
“We strongly believe that he (Colburn) has values in line with the 1st congressional district,” Foster said.