Wayne Gilchrest Loses His Seat, Oceans Lose A Champion

By Sheril Kirshenbaum

Wayne Gilchrest has been a champion of oceans and leader in science policy. After nine terms in office, he lost his seat to conservative Andy P. Harris.

Politics aren’t as black and white as they sometimes appear and Congressman Wayne Gilchrest from Maryland is a wonderful example of a Republican who has been a tremendous champion of the environment. His journey to Congress was nontraditional and when he arrived, Gilchrest stood out from most members of the GOP.  From the Washington Post:

Gilchrest shunned the Washington party circuit, preferring most nights to drive two hours back to his family and farm on the Eastern Shore. When he stayed in the city, he slept in his office rather than “waste money” on an apartment. He rarely cast votes that followed any party or ideological lines, and he became known as the quintessential political maverick, winning the odd distinction last year of being the Republican most likely to vote against his own party.

Wayne Gilchrest has been a champion of oceans and leader in science policy. He has served as Chairman on the Fisheries & Oceans Subcommittee and Co-Chair of the House Oceans Caucus and House Coastal Caucus. He had a central role in the passage of the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 and the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in 2006.  After nine terms in office, I am saddened by his loss to Andy P. Harris by 11 points.   Harris spent over 1 million dollars on his campaign promoting his conservative credentials and attacking Gilchrest for being too moderate.  After defeat following nearly two decades in Congress, he refused to congratulate Harris because of “unseemly behavior” on the campaign trail, saying “The integrity of my eternal soul is infinitely more valuable than a pathetic political career.”

While I’m pleased Congressman Gilchrest maintains his integrity (and sense of humor), this loss puts our oceans in more peril than ever.

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