A nasty battle of the airwaves is under way in the 1st Congressional District, marked by new commercials attacking Democratic Rep. Roy P. Dyson and his Republican challenger, Wayne T. Gilchrest.
But there's a twist: Gilchrest disavows the commercial attacking Dyson.
The anti-Dyson television commercial is the second sponsored by the Free State Republican Fund, a maverick Republican group that ran its first anti-Dyson advertisement five weeks ago. Fund officials say they're operating independently of the state party and Gilchrest, who strongly disavows the fund's efforts.
Free State's new commercial rehashes Dyson's problems of the past two years, such as the $3,000 fine assessed against his campaign by the Federal Election Commission. "Scandals keep Roy Dyson's name in the news," a narrator says. "One embarrassment after another."
The 30-second commercial began airing yesterday on Salisbury television stations and also will run on cable television, says Albert E. Bullock, fund chairman.
The fund is registered with the FEC as a Maryland political action committee dedicated to electing Republicans to federal office. Bullock is a former Montgomery County Republican Central Committee member. C. Nelson Warfield, former executive director of the state party, prepared the fund's commercials.
Dyson's campaign, meanwhile, claims the commercial wil benefit Dyson by creating voter antagonism toward Gilchrest.
"That's good news from the standpoint of winning this electio because the people of the 1st district simply won't tolerate negative campaigning," said Dyson's campaign manager, Christopher Robinson.
Robinson said Gilchrest's inability to block airing of th commercials shows "he'd be woefully lacking in any ability to do anything in Congress."
Meanwhile, Dyson is running a TV commercial charging that Gilchrest "supports cuts in Social Security" and "would use Social Security to balance the budget," Robinson said. He said ++ he was paraphrasing the commercial; he could not immediately make available a transcript.
Gilchrest's spokesman, Tony Caligiuri, condemned th commercial as false and labeled it "an act of desperation."
Caligiuri said Gilchrest opposes any cuts in Social Securit cost-of-living increases and favors taking Social Security "off budget" to preclude the current practice of using Social Security funds to balance the federal budget.
Gilchrest has said he supported the original budget agreement congressional leaders worked out with President Bush, which would have increased charges paid by Medicare beneficiaries. The House of Representatives voted down the agreement.
Clashing on another front, the state Republican Party and Dyson's campaign released conflicting poll results.
A new poll by the National Republican Congressional Committe shows Gilchrest ahead, 45 percent to 40 percent, with 15 percent of those polled undecided. The poll of 300 likely voters was conducted Oct. 9-10 and has a margin of error of 5.7 percent.
But Robinson said a poll done for Dyson's campaign by Kitchens and Associates of Florida shows Dyson is leading, 46 percent to 37 percent. The poll of 404 voters was done "just about a week ago," Robinson said.