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Gilchrest backs Fisher for GOP nod in 1st district

Ben Pershing

Ex-Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R) is backing businessman Rob Fisher for the Republican nomination in his old 1st congressional district seat, but the announcement may have come too late to make a major difference in Tuesday's primary.

Gilchrest revealed his choice in a news release from Fisher, who is running an uphill campaign against state Sen. Andrew P. Harris for the GOP nod against Rep. Frank Kratovil (D). After the Harris beat the moderate Gilchrest in the 2008 Republican primary, Gilchrest endorsed Kratovil, helping the Democrat notch a narrow win over Harris.

Gilchrest is expected to back Kratovil again in November regardless of the GOP nominee, but he said in the release issued Sunday that he preferred Fisher in Tuesday's balloting.

Fisher's "commitment to the issues and running a positive campaign is commendable, particularly given the exceedingly negative tone of the current political climate," Gilchrest said in the release, after meeting with Fisher last week. "Of the candidates currently competing in the Republican primary, Rob Fisher is far and above the best candidate to carry those values forward into the general election. I wish him the best this Tuesday and look forward to talking with him more as the Republican nominee for Maryland's 1st District."

Fisher said he was "honored" that Gilchrest met with him, and that Gilchrest's "advice was very much appreciated and I look forward to working him on many issues once elected to Congress."

Gilchrest was traveling out of the country Sunday evening and not available to elaborate on his statement.

Fisher and Harris have been engaged in a heated contest in the 1st, which includes the Eastern shore and several counties north and south of Baltimore. Harris is widely expected to prevail Tuesday and face Kratovil for the second consecutive cycle. Fisher has poured close to $500,000 of his own money into the race but is not well-known in the district, while Harris has the tacit backing of most of the local and national GOP establishment.

Running as an "outsider," Fisher is a political novice and has been the subject of some negative press attention regarding his personal life. Fisher has blamed Harris's campaign for spreading information about his background, though without any clear evidence that Harris was the source.

Harris's campaign has been dismissive of the idea that Fisher poses any real threat to him in Tuesday's primary, mostly focusing instead on a rematch with Kratovil.

"I didn't even realize Wayne Gilchrest was still a Republican," Harris campaign manager Bill Lattanzi said Sunday in response to the endorsement. "If I were Frank Kratovil, I'd be worried that Wayne Gilchrest was supporting someone -- Rob Fisher -- with such a questionable background."

By Ben Pershing  |  September 12, 2010; 9:32 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Ben Pershing  
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