Former Ally Of Gilchrest Enters GOP Primary

A former ally of Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) announced today that he will be running against him — a move that could actually benefit the nine-term incumbent as he faces a tough primary battle to win the GOP nomination.

Maryland state Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R) kicked off his campaign today as part of a four-stop district tour, entering a GOP primary against Gilchrest and his leading rival, conservative state Sen. Andrew Harris (R).

“We’re going to campaign on a positive basis,” said Pipkin. “The congressman’s a good man. I think he lost touch with his district. "

A retired Wall Street investment banker, he would be able to self-fund a campaign. He spent about $1 million of his own funds in a race against Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).  Known as a moderate in the state legislature, Pipkin ran unsuccessfully against Mikulski in 2004.

For his part, Gilchrest is in one of his toughest reelection fights since he was first elected in 1990, and he has been attacked by Harris for his moderate voting record over the war in Iraq and on fiscal issues. Harris has outraised Gilchrest for the cycle and has banked nearly as much as the incumbent. (See more about the primary race here and here.)

Pipkin’s entry in the race, at first glance, appears to benefit Gilchrest, as it splits up the anti-incumbent vote.

Pipkin shares Gilchrest’s geographic base in the Eastern Shore and has few substantive differences on policy with the incumbent. But he is branding himself as an "Eastern Shore conservative" and is positioning himself to split the anti-Gilchrest challenger vote with Harris.