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Congressional Races Vie With President for Attention in Maryland Primary

March 1, 1992

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ Former basketball star Tom McMillen must be quick on his feet to win the Democratic nomination for a third term in Congress during Tuesday’s primary, the first this year to include non-presidential candidates.

McMillen, who played for the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Bullets, was the big loser in last fall’s fight over congressional redistricting.

He lost most of his suburban Baltimore-Annapolis constituency and is battling for his political future in a reconfigured 1st District dominated by the rural, conservative Eastern Shore.

″I’ll be like a one-arm paperhanger until election day,″ McMillen said, adding he will continue to vigorously campaign on the Eastern Shore.

McMillen’s main challenger is Samuel Q. Johnson, a state delegate and Eastern Shore resident. The only other serious candidate is Delegate John Astle, from McMillen’s home county. Most observers in the district see McMillen as the favorite.

Redistricting also has brought an unusual degree of uncertainty to the 4th Congressional District.

Democratic voters in the Washington suburbs will decide whether a white candidate, Delegate Dana Dembrow, can take advantage of a black vote fractured by four major black candidates, created to give Maryland a second black congressman.

The 4th District borders the District of Columbia and has no incumbent. As a result, it attracted 13 Democratic candidates, including black politicians Albert Wynn, a state senator, Alexander Williams, a prosecutor, Hilda Pemberton, a member of the Prince George’s County Council and Francis J. Aluisi, a former member of the council.

Blacks make up almost 60 percent of the district, which was drawn to keep the state in compliance with the federal voting rights act.

Most elected officials believe the Democratic nomination will be won by either Wynn or Williams.

″I don’t believe Delegate Dembrow will make much of a difference,″ said Decatur Trotter, a state senator from the district.

While McMillen tries to capture the Democratic nomination in the 1st District, Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest hopes to hold off three challengers in his party’s primary.

That would set up a battle of incumbents for the 1st District seat in the November general election.

Gilchrest was expected to defeat three conservative challengers. They included Lisa Renshaw, a businesswoman who has used a lot of her own money to try to convince Republican voters that Gilchrest is an out-of-step liberal.

Gilchrest is the only one of the Republican candidates who lives in the rural part of the district, which has almost 60 percent of the registered voters.

″People vote geography, particularly on the Eastern Shore,″ said Rich Colburn, a former Republican lawmaker and observer of Eastern Shore politics.

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