A new round of hard-hitting radio advertisements is being heard in the 1st Congressional District, with incumbent Representative Roy P. Dyson charging that his GOP opponent, Wayne T. Gilchrest, was "unemployed" last year and "got caught" taking money from his own campaign -- charges vehemently denied by Mr. Gilchrest.
Meanwhile, an ad from the Gilchrest camp asks voters whether they "believe" the congressman who "has begun running a desperate negative campaign."
With four days to go before Election Day in this tight contest, the latest Dyson campaign ad being aired on radio stations throughout the district features an announcer asking, "What does anyone really know about Wayne Gilchrest?"
The announcer goes on to say Mr. Gilchrest "supports freezing Social Security" to balance the federal budget. "Wayne is the same guy who was unemployed last year . . . who got caught taking money out of his own campaign for personal use," the ad states.
"What we know about Wayne is bad enough," the announcer concludes. "What is really scary though is what we don't yet know."
"This is really gutter politics," Mr. Gilchrest said yesterday of the Dyson campaign ad. "This guy must really be desperate."
"I was never unemployed," said Mr. Gilchrest, who is currently on leave from his teaching job at Kent County High School.
After narrowly losing to Mr. Dyson in the 1988 campaign, Mr. Gilchrest said, he worked as a house painter and at a sawmill, and helped to construct a barn.
He also worked at the Chestertown office of the state Department of Economic and Employment Development on a federally funded program involving migrant farm workers. William Mulligan, manager of the DEED office, said yesterday that Mr. Gilchrest worked from June through September -- when he returned to teaching -- taking complaints from landowners and migrant workers.
Mr. Gilchrest has repeatedly denied ever calling for a freeze or for cuts in Social Security. And he said that while he collects $208 each week from his campaign for expenses, "every bit of that stuff is reported" with the Federal Election Commission.
Gilchrest campaign records list the expenditure, and FEC officials have said the practice does not violate election rules since candidates are given wide latitude to use campaign funds for expenses.
Christopher Robinson, Mr. Dyson's campaign manager, did not return phone calls yesterday. Last night, in a televised debate with Mr. Gilchrest on WBOC-TV in Salisbury, Mr. Dyson referred to what he called his opponent's "weekly salary" from his campaign funds.
Mr. Gilchrest is running radio and television ads that feature an endorsement from The Sun and include an attempt to play up the background of the candidate.
After quoting from the endorsement, the announcer concludes: "So, who do you believe? Roy Dyson, or veteran, teacher, family man Wayne Gilchrest?"