Wayne T. Gilchrest, Republican candidate for Congress in the 1st District, angrily disavows a campaign commercial ostensibly intended to help him defeat incumbent Democratic Rep. Roy P. Dyson.
The commercial attacks Dyson for accepting contributions from special-interest groups and was to begin airing today in Salisbury and later on cable television in Southern Maryland. It was prepared by an independent Republican group, the Free State Republican Fund, which is not associated with the Maryland Republican Party.
Gilchrest and state party officials condemned the group for planning to air the commercial, copies of which were distributed yesterday to reporters. Dyson's campaign manager, Christopher Robinson, said "the negative campaign could very well backfire."
"If they're trying to help Mr. Gilchrest out, that may not be doing him any favor at all," Robinson said.
Gilchrest, Robinson and state party officials said they learned of the commercial from reporters.
"That's a renegade Republican group," said Gilchrest. "I totally disavow any link with them whatsoever.
"They don't want to defeat Roy Dyson," he said. "They're doing it for their own self-serving purposes. If they wanted to defeat Roy Dyson they would call me up and say, 'What can we do to help?'"
Gilchrest said he opposes "negative campaigns" and is hoping state and national party officials can help him find a way to keep the commercial off the air.
"See, the problem is, once it goes on the air, nobody's going to believe it wasn't us," Gilchrest said. "I just don't want to be associated with that."
The fund is headed by Albert E. Bullock, a Montgomery County Republican Central Committee member who was defeated in a re-election bid Tuesday. The consultant who prepared the commercial is C. Nelson Warfield, a former executive director of the state party. Richard L. Andrews of Easton is the treasurer.
The fund, which is a registered federal political action committee, was formed last January out of dissatisfaction with the state party, Bullock said.
It formed originally as the Maryland Republican Fund, but was forced to change its name. The counsel to the state election board concluded last March that that name was intended to "delude Maryland Republicans into thinking" that their contributions would go to the state party.
"The purpose of the fund is to help congressional candidates in Maryland," Bullock said, "and we've decided that the 1st District is the most vulnerable and Roy Dyson is the most undesirable and that's why we're concentrating our efforts there.
"We don't think it's a negative ad," Bullock said. "We think it's informative."
The ad says Dyson received $400,000 in political action committee funds during the last election cycle and shows a mock check to him signed by "fat cat." It concludes with these words: "Roy Dyson, bought in Washington, paid for in Maryland."
Warfield, who was the state party's director from December 1986 until July 1988, said the fund invested $10,000 to produce and air the commercial. Bullock said a second commercial has been prepared and might run later.
Officials of the two Salisbury television stations, WMDT and WBOC, said yesterday that they could not immediately determine whether they had received the commercial and would air it today.
Robinson said the law gives Gilchrest the right to demand that the stations not run such a commercial, but one station official said that is not true.
Robinson said he believed the $400,000 figure for Dyson's PAC contributions in 1987 and 1988 was accurate.