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Gilchrest Backs Off From No-PAC Pledge

Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) has backed off his opposition to accepting money from political action committees, according to the Salisbury Times, as he faces one of his toughest re-election campaigns since first elected in 1990.

Gilchrest is one of the few members of Congress who refuses to accept money from PACs, allowing him to claim that he is untainted by money from special interests.

But, according to the paper, Gilchrest will be attending a fundraising lunch this Thursday with House Minority Leader John Boehner with suggested contributions starting at $1,000 apiece.

Gilchrest spokesman Tony Caligiuri told the Salisbury Times that he has been “pushed” to accept PAC money because his primary opponent, state senator Andrew Harris has been endorsed by the free-spending anti-tax Club for Growth

“Fundraising has never been a strength of Wayne Gilchrest. He would rather not raise PAC money… It’s a sad fact that this campaign has been pushed to do this,” Caligiuri said.

But Gilchrest has faced conservative primary opponents that have been endorsed by the Club for Growth in the past, including a serious 2002 challenge from attorney David Fischer.

At the end of the third quarter, Gilchrest and Harris had similar amounts of money stockpiled. Gilchrest banked $414,000, while Harris had $402,000 in his campaign account. Third-party groups have also been airing ads on behalf of both candidates.

Gilchrest is facing Harris, state senator E.J. Pipkin and three lesser-known candidates in the Republican primary, scheduled for February 12, 2008.