WASHINGTON -- Citing his liberal stands on abortion and other issues, two leading GOP 1st District congressional candidates said yesterday that they would not support the party's nominee, Wayne T. Gilchrest, apparently --ing hopes the Republican Party can unify against Representative Roy P. Dyson, D-Md.-1st, for the fall election.
GOP candidate Barry Sullivan, who came in second to Mr. Gilchrest in Tuesday's primary, said the nominee's pro-abortion rights stand prevents him from endorsing Mr. Gilchrest's candidacy. "[Mr. Gilchrest] believes in abortion ... I can't support that," said Mr. Sullivan, a Calvert County engineer who made abortion a major campaign issue.
At the same time, Delegate Richard F. Colburn of Dorchester County, who placed third among the eight GOP candidates, also said he would not support Mr. Gilchrest. "I really don't see how I could support him," said Mr. Colburn. "I certainly have a different political philosophy than Wayne Gilchrest."
Mr. Gilchrest, 44, a Kent County teacher and part-time house painter who lost to Mr. Dyson by about 1,500 votes in 1988, captured the GOP nomination with 28 percent of the vote, followed by Mr. Sullivan with 14 percent and Mr. Colburn with 12 percent.
The remaining five GOP candidates said yesterday that they would support Mr. Gilchrest and pledged to work on his campaign.
Mr. Colburn said he split with Mr. Gilchrest on at least six issues, citing the GOP nominee's support for abortion rights, gun control and building restrictions on non-tidal wetlands, a particularly important issue on the Lower Shore.
"I'm a conservative," said Mr. Colburn, "and Wayne is -- to put it nicely -- a moderate to liberal Republican." Throughout the campaign Mr. Colburn criticized Mr. Gilchrest, saying a liberal would be unable to defeat Mr. Dyson, a 41-year-old conservative.
The five-term congressman, who introduced a bill that would ease federal controls on non-tidal wetlands, has said he expects that issue to be a central part of his campaign.
Both Republican candidates said they do not plan to attend a GOP unity meeting planned Saturday on Kent Island with the remaining 1st District candidates as well as state and national Republican officials.
The Kent Island meeting also is designed as a strategy session for the fall campaign against Mr. Dyson, who easily dispatched primary challenger Barbara O. Kreamer of Harford County. Mr. Dyson won with 54 percent of the vote, compared with 32 percent for Mrs. Kreamer.
Maryland GOP Chairman Joyce Lyons Terhes conceded that the discord could hurt the GOP nominee. "It will, but we will move forward from there," said Mrs. Terhes, who said she will urge all the GOP challengers to support Mr. Gilchrest.
Mrs. Terhes brushed aside speculation that Mr. Gilchrest is more liberal than Mr. Dyson. She said the Republican nominee's Vietnam War combat record, experience as a teacher and his "honesty and integrity ... overcomes issues, if there are issues, that seem to be more liberal."
GOP officials will talk with Mr. Gilchrest to "crystallize" his positions, said Mrs. Terhes, but denied she would encourage him to moderate his views. "Wayne is Wayne and that is one of the things that's impressive about him," she said.
Mr. Gilchrest said it was "too bad" he did not receive the support of his two rivals, and also dismissed any political classification of his campaign. "We have reached a point where we have to stop saying liberal or conservative. We cannot adhere to a particular dogma," he said. "Our decisions have to be based on sound evidence. Ours is a thinking campaign, always thinking."
The National Republican Congressional Committee has placed the 1st District race among its top priorities, seeing Mr. Dyson as "one of the most vulnerable members of Congress," said committee spokesman Gary Koops.
The NRCC said it will provide Mr. Gilchrest with political consultant William Lacy, a former political director for the Republican National Committee who worked on the 1988 presidential campaign of Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan.
Meanwhile, the Southern Maryland congressman circulated throughout Salisbury yesterday buoyed by a strong primary victory that some analysts expected to be closer.
After celebrating until well past midnight, Mr. Dyson showed up at 6:38 a.m. yesterday at the gate of Dresser Industries in Salisbury, where he shook hands with some of the 450 employees. Accompanied by local United Auto Workers officials, some of his campaign staff and two television crews, the congressman was warmly received by most of the workers.
The congressman chided reporters and television crews for predicting that he might lose. But both he and his campaign manager, Christopher Robinson, conceded that they were somewhat surprised, and certainly relieved, that it had not been closer.