RINOs From American History #3: Gilbert Gude

Maryland’s 8th district, which is currently represented by 1/6 Committee Democrat Jamie Raskin, is centered in Bethesda and is a district liberal in character and voting habits. However, this district used to be up for electing Republicans…liberal ones that is.

The 1966 midterms were a backlash against President Lyndon B. Johnson, Vietnam, and race riots, and one of the beneficiaries was Gilbert Gude (1923-2007), who won an open seat. This was the same year, incidentally, that Republican Spiro Agnew was elected governor over a segregationist Democrat in George Mahoney. Gude, unlike many people in this series, was right off the bat leaning in the liberal direction, with his 1967 Americans for Constitutional Action (ACA) score being a 34% and his Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) score being a 73%. Gude rejected the labels of liberal and conservative, thinking of himself as “a liberal on civil rights and a moderate on fiscal matters” (Schudel). He had previously served in the state legislature as well as the state senate and had chaired Congressman Charles Mathias’s successful 1964 reelection campaign. After President Nixon’s election, he would only become more liberal, opposing President Nixon’s Vietnam War policies and voting for the Cooper-Church Amendment in 1970 to cut off funds for troops in Cambodia. He also supported increased gun control. Gude became most known, however, for his advocacy for environmental laws and succeeded in amending the Clean Air Act to require publication of auto emission test results, worked for the protection of the Potomac Valley, worked the protection of the Chesapeake and the Potomac River, and the creation of the C&O National Historical Park, now one of the nation’s most frequented national parks (Kelly & Rasmussen). In 1972, he supported Rep. Henry Reuss’s (D-Wis.) unsuccessful effort to add an amendment to the Water Pollution Control Act to require firms use the latest water pollution control technology by 1980.

In 1970, Gude faced a Democratic opponent with a big name: Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., the son of the House’s Majority Whip Hale Boggs of Louisiana, but he won reelection by over 26 points. He was, in short, unbeatable. Even in the 1974 midterms, in which the Republican Party was harmed by the Watergate scandal, Gude won reelection in this Democratic district by over 30 points. In 1976, Gude decided to retire to accept a post as the head of the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service. That year, Gude got a 9% from ACA, with ADA giving him an 80%. He would serve in this next role until 1985. After his retirement, two more Republicans with a philosophy much like his would be elected from the district: Newton Steers (1977-1979) and Constance Morella (1987-2003). The Montgomery County district would fall from Republican hands in the 2002 midterms as the district was made even more Democratic.


Kelly, J. & Rasmussen, F.N. (2007, June 8). Gilbert Gude. The Baltimore Sun.

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Schudel, M. (2007, June 9). Gilbert Gude, 84; GOP Legislator, Environmentalist. The Washington Post.

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Van Hollen, C. (2007, June 12). Tribute to Congressman Gilbert Gude. VoteSmart.

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One thought on “RINOs From American History #3: Gilbert Gude

  1. Very Good ON Gude… But This RINO Series IS A Bit Depressing
    Reminscent Of Today… Can You Leaven This With Some Conservative Democrats & HUAC Members?! Just A Thought From A TEXAS Tory. Have A Nice Day, Dave. It’s Chilly Here. Hope Your Weather Is Better.

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