Gilchrest charts route from Chestertown to Capitol Hill

November 11, 1990|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- When "Mr. Gilchrest goes to Washington" -- as an Eastern Shore newspaper headline declared last week -- the new Republican on the block won't be traveling alone, living on a shoestring or suffering from a lack of advice.

The new congressman from the 1st District, who had four paid staff members on his campaign, now will have about $440,000 to hire up to 22 employees for his Washington and district offices.

And none of them will be former staff members for Roy P. Dyson, the five-term Democrat who lost the seat last week.

Mr. Gilchrest, who had paid himself $208 each week from his campaign fund for expenses, will have about $126,000 each year for expenses, from district office rent to phone calls and stationery, said Ellen McCarthy of the Committee on House Administration.

Yesterday, the Gilchrest campaign office closed to make way for the Gilchrest congressional office, according to Tony Caligiuri, the 22-year-old campaign press spokesman who will accompany Gilchrest to Capitol Hill.

Throughout the next week, Mr. Gilchrest and his advisers will decide how to staff the Washington office and determine the location of the district offices, Mr. Caligiuri said. They will sift through about 200 resumes that have come in from all around the country.

Mr. Gilchrest said his remaining three campaign staff members also will join the congressional office, either in Washington or the district, although no specific assignments have been determined.

As for keeping any of Mr. Dyson's staffers, he said: "God no, that hadn't even entered my mind. I don't even know any of them. We have people we already know that are going to be good at that."

Some have urged Mr. Gilchrest to hire a top aide with Washington experience, since none of his campaign staff has worked in Congress. "People have talked about that; I'm considering that," he said.

"He's going to need someone with experience," agreed Representative Fred Upton, R-Mich., who advised Mr. Gilchrest during the campaign under the national Republicans' "big brother" program. The three-term Michigan congressman said his Washington staff will consult with Gilchrest campaign officials this week on organizing an office and hiring staff.

"You've got to hit the ground running," Mr. Upton said. "The next two months are the most important and set the stage forever, whether it's committee assignments or staff decisions."

Mr. Upton said he will advise his new colleague on how to deal with constituent services and how to lobby for committee assignments. Such topics also will be on the agenda of a six-day Washington seminar for freshmen lawmakers later this month.

After that orientation, a new-members seminar will be held at Harvard University, where academics and former policy-makers -- like former Secretary of State George P. Shultz -- will indoctrinate new members in such issues as the economy and national security.

Mr. Gilchrest, like his predecessor, said he hopes to have three congressional district offices: one in Chestertown, where his campaign headquarters was located, another in Salisbury and the third somewhere in Southern Maryland.

The Dyson district offices are located in Salisbury, Aberdeen and Waldorf.

The congressman-elect said he hopes to be assigned to one of Mr. Dyson's three House committees: Merchant Marine and Fisheries, Armed Services or Agriculture. The 44-year-old former teacher, who campaigned on his national energy concerns and his Vietnam War combat experience, also is interested in Energy and Commerce or Veterans' Affairs committees.

"You've got to start lobbying now" for committee assignments, Mr. Upton said. "It's done before you get sworn in."

In December and January, Republicans and Democrats will caucus and decide how the committee assignments will be divided. Mr. Upton said that since Mr. Gilchrest has no seniority, it's unlikely he will get a seat on Energy and Commerce, a key committee. "You have to do two terms before you get anything like that," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dyson's press secretary, Desiree Green, was uncertain when the congressman would meet with his successor to help with a transition, as Mr. Dyson said he would do when he conceded defeat.

Also uncertain, according to Ms. Green, are the plans of the congressman's estimated 15 employees in Washington and the district or when Mr. Dyson's district offices will close.

The congressman, who turns 42 on Thursday, returned to his Great Mills home after election night and has been unavailable. "He's been in and out," said his mother, Marie, who said she did not know what Mr. Dyson would do in the future.

Despite the prospect of her son's being out of elected office for the first time since 1975, when he was first elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, Mrs. Dyson described his mood as "excellent." She added, "I think Roy's a very strong person."

Waiting in Washington

What Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest will get in Washington. Costs are estimates:

* $440,000 each year to pay for up to 22 staff members in his Washington office and offices in the district.

* $126,000 each year for expenses, ranging from office rent to phone calls and stationery.

* Committee preferences (will receive two): Agriculture, Armed Services, Energy and Commerce, Merchant Marine and Fisheries, Veterans' Affairs.

* District offices: likely locations are Chestertown, Salisbury and a location still to be determined in Southern Maryland.

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