Congressional Fallout ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

November 05, 1992

Tom McMillen's loss to Wayne Gilchrest comes as no surprise. Everyone knew Mr. McMillen was in trouble from the day state Democratic leaders threw him into a new district dominated by Mr. Gilchrest's Eastern Shore territory. The Democrats willingly gambled Mr. McMillen's seat, and lost.

What comes as more of a shock is that the Democrats lost possession of their House seat in Western Maryland. Conservative Republican Roscoe Bartlett captured Democrat Beverly Byron's seat in the 6th District. Mr. Bartlett defeated state Del. Thomas Hattery, who upset Mrs. Byron in the March primary. The Democrats thought Mrs. Byron's seat was safe when they put Mr. McMillen at risk. Now, instead of sending six Democrats to Washington, they will send only four.

For Mr. Gilchrest, the next two years will be the true test of his value as a legislator. Though he has shown a refreshing unorthodoxy, he has not been influential on Capitol Hill. His junior status has made him a minor player in the fight for federal projects and money. Mr. Gilchrest is known as a nice person, but that is not enough. He must prove he can build coalitions, establish connections and maneuver for positions on choice committees -- all essential for getting things done in Washington.

Next to gaining clout in a Democratic Congress, Mr. Gilchrest's greatest challenge will be the scope of his district. Many issues in Anne Arundel County and South Baltimore require federal involvement -- creek dredgings, pollution, unemployment. But western shore constituents -- especially those in the far north -- fear they will get short shrift. Mr. Gilchrest must show early on that he will represent them as well as his neighbors on the Eastern Shore.

The outcome of three other races bodes well for Anne Arundel: Democrats Steny Hoyer and Benjamin Cardin and Republican Helen D. Bentley, who will represent pieces of the county due to redistricting, held onto their seats. In the 7th and 8th Districts, Democrat Kweisi Mfume and Republican Constance Morella deservedly won re-election. Democratic state Sen. Albert Wynn promises to do a good job in the new 4th District as Maryland's second African-American representative. And Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski's considerable influence should grow during her second term, especially with her party controlling the presidency.

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