Only in the First Congressional District do Maryland voters have a real chance to change their federal representation this year. Elsewhere, incumbents face nominal opposition. But in the district that encompasses Harford County, the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland, challenger Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Republican, may yet defeat Rep. Roy P. Dyson, the Democratic incumbent.
We endorse Mr. Gilchrest's candidacy because he has demonstrated in his career as a teacher and in his war record in Vietnam and in his campaigning for this office the most important qualification for a public servant: character.
He risked his life to serve his nation in an unpopular war at a time when Mr. Dyson was avoiding the draft, first by clever use of deferments for an education that was a mere expedient, then by the hypocritical and covert invocation of a pacifist philosophy he did not really believe. In office Mr. Dyson was exposed as a brazen courter of special interests. His and an aide's financial relationship with these interests led to a Federal Election Commission penalty, admission of other improprieties and even a tragic suicide.
Mr. Gilchrest is a thoughtful, mainstream Eastern Shoreman who has been endorsed by a broad spectrum of Republicans, including both of the GOP leaders -- President Bush and Rep. Newt Gingrich -- who took opposite sides in the recent debate over the summit budget agreement.
We also endorse the following incumbents:
In the Second District (Baltimore and Harford counties), Rep. Helen Bentley. She is a conservative Republican in a Democratic state, and as such has been an important link with the White House.
In the Third (Baltimore and suburbs), Democratic Rep. Benjamin Cardin has in two terms displayed the same legislative prowess he showed as a youthful House speaker in Annapolis.
In the Fourth (Anne Arundel), Rep. Tom McMillen, a Democrat who came to the House with a national reputation as an athlete and scholar, is forging a new one as a business-oriented Democrat of moderate views.
In the Fifth (Prince George's), Rep. Steny Hoyer, who also learned the legislative ropes as a leader in the General Assembly, has in less than a decade risen to a key Democratic leadership post.
In the Sixth (Western Maryland), Rep. Beverly Byron is a Democrat who votes with the Republicans almost as often as with her own party, but she speaks for her district and represents it well.
In the Seventh (Baltimore), Democrat Rep. Kweisi Mfume has earned respect as a quiet but effective worker in behalf of liberal causes.
In the Eighth (Montgomery County), Rep. Constance Morella is that rarity in the nation but a staple in her district -- a moderate Republican who ably represents the interests of her well-to-do and government-oriented residents.