Colleagues Aid Marylanders in Need

Posted February 6, 2008 at 6:35pm

As the old saying goes, when the chips are down you find out who your friends are.

Or maybe Members of Congress are just really good about protecting their own kind.

With less than a week before Maryland’s unusually early Congressional primary, two Members who are on opposite sides of the aisle but are fighting for their political lives have between them received more than $65,000 in donations from the campaigns and political action committees of current and former colleagues.

And according to last-minute filing with the Federal Election Commission, more money is coming in each day.

Just last week, 4th district Rep. Albert Wynn’s (D) campaign received a check for $5,000 from Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) Majority PAC as his Feb. 12 primary rematch with lawyer and community activist Donna Edwards (D) appears to be a tossup. In the past two weeks, Wynn has also received checks totaling $3,300 from the campaigns of fellow Congressional Black Caucus members Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and Donald Payne (D-N.J.) as well as a $2,000 check from the campaign of Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas).

Meanwhile, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R), a moderate being challenged on the right by two high-profile state Senators in Maryland’s 1st district, got a $5,000 boost last Thursday from the Leadership Encouraging Excellence PAC run by former Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.), a fellow moderate.

Johnson’s PAC donation adds to the more than $23,000 Gilchrest has received this cycle from Member PACs, according to a search of FEC records and the Web database CQ MoneyLine. That total includes $5,000 from the PAC run by the coalition of House moderates known as the Tuesday Group and $5,000 from the Republican Main Street Partnership PAC and more than $4,000 from the Pioneer PAC run by Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio). All but $3,500 of Gilchrest’s total Member PAC donations came during the fourth quarter of 2007. Gilchrest also took in $8,000 from the campaign committees of seven, mostly moderate, Republican Members.

Gilchrest is facing two well-funded challengers in his quest for a tenth term. As he did in his losing bid 2004 Senate bid, state Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R) has dumped massive amounts of personal resources into the race, loaning his campaign more than $660,000 of his own money. State Sen. Andy Harris (R), meanwhile, has not only doubled Gilchrest in fundraising from individuals but he also earned the endorsement of the powerful Club for Growth, and the anti-tax group’s political action committee has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on independent expenditures in the 1st district race already.

In his race, Wynn has been able to maintain his fundraising edge over Edwards due in large part to high-dollar donations from corporate PACs, an issue that Edwards has made much of this election cycle. But through the fourth quarter of the year, Wynn also has received $19,000 from the PACs and campaign committees of his fellow Members. Most notably, fellow Marylander and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D) has given Wynn $5,000 since the fall through his AMERIPAC, and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) gave $2,000 through his Our Common Values PAC.