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Few Colleagues Giving to Wynn, Gilchrest

UPDATE, 12:15 p.m. ET: All the numbers in the original post below were valid though Jan. 23, the last day covered by pre-primary reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. But in the last days before an election, candidates have to file what are known as 48-hour reports, disclosing the donations they've received in the last two days. Both Wynn and Gilchrest have filed several such reports, and they show that at least a few more members of Congress have stepped up with donations.

Wynn has received late donations from the campaign accounts or PACs of Democratic Reps. Bobby Rush (Ill.), Eliot Engel (N.Y.), John Tanner (Tenn.) and Bart Gordon (Tenn.). He also got more donations from Hoyer and a $5,000 check from the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.

Gilchrest has received last-minute contributions from GOP Reps. Fred Upton (Mich.), Bill Shuster (Pa.), Tom Petri (Wis.) and Phil English (Pa.), plus a new donation from Sen. Hagel and one from ex-Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.).

ORIGINAL POST: Maryland Reps. Al Wynn (D) and Wayne Gilchrest (R) face tough primary opponents today. But the two long-serving incumbents have been fighting for their political lives largely without the help of their congressional colleagues.

Rep. Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (File photo by Robert A. Reeder / The Post)

Despite the fact that Wynn is in his 8th term in the House and Gilchrest is in his 9th, neither man has received much in the way of financial support from their fellow members of Congress.

Wynn is locked in a tight battle with Donna Edwards in the 4th District. He had raised a million dollars for his campaign as of Jan. 23, but he had only gotten contributions from the campaign committees or PACs of seven current lawmakers, for a total of $17,000, according to numbers compiled by CQ MoneyLine.

Gilchrest is squaring off in the 1st District GOP primary against two well-funded conservative challengers -- state Sens. Andrew Harris and E.J. Pipkin. But the incumbent had hauled in less than $16,000 from 13 fellow sitting Republicans as of Jan. 23, also according to CQ MoneyLine.

Fundraising is critical for Gilchrest, since both his challengers have outraised him. Backed by the influential conservative group Club for Growth, Harris had raised $1.1 million as of Jan. 23, while the wealthy Pipkin had raised $600,000, mostly from his own pockets. Gilchrest, meanwhile, trailed both men with $567,000 in receipts.

The small group of lawmakers who have given to Gilchrest include two members of the GOP leadership -- Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and House Rules Chairman David Dreier (Calif.). Two GOP Senators also contributed -- Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.).

Gilchrest got additional help from a couple of former colleagues -- ex-Reps. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) and Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) -- as well as a pair of PACs designed to help moderate Republicans.

Rep. Al Wynn of Maryland
Rep. Al Wynn (AP File Photo)

On the Democratic side, Wynn has been bombarded with television ads from outside groups accusing him of voting too often with Republicans and corporate interests. Only three of his fellow Congressional Black Caucus members had contributed to him as of Jan. 23 - Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.), Danny Davis (Ill.) and James Clyburn (S.C.).

On the leadership front, Wynn has gotten help from the PACs of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.).

Wynn also received $2,300 in help from an ex-member -- Republican Billy Tauzin (La.) -- though the donation is a mixed blessing. Wynn serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which Tauzin used to chair. But now Tauzin runs the massive drug lobbying group PhRMA, and the charge that Wynn takes too much money from drug company lobbyists leads off this tough ad from MoveOn.org.

So why haven't more members given to Wynn and Gilchrest? Capitol Briefing isn't going to poll all of Congress for the answer, but here are three possible explanations:

1. For either personal or political reasons, the two lawmakers' colleagues may not be that concerned at the prospect that they may lose their races. Some liberal members may privately prefer Edwards to Wynn, while conservatives could be more sympathetic to Pipkin or Harris than to Gilchrest.

2. Wynn and Gilchrest may simply not have asked for their colleagues' support. With nine months to go until Election Day and the presidential campaign in full throttle, many lawmakers may not be paying much attention to Maryland House primaries and would need a nudge or personal plea before they get involved financially.

3. Wynn's seat will likely stay Democratic no matter who wins the primary, while Gilchrest's should stay Republican. If a victory by a primary challenger was going to put either seat in play in November, other members might be more likely to perk up and take notice.

We should know by tonight or perhaps tomorrow whether Wynn and Gilchrest will be on the ballot in November, and whether they could have, or should have, gotten a little more help from their friends.

By Ben Pershing  |  February 12, 2008; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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