POTOMAC, Md. (AP) - Maryland Democrats picked up a seat Tuesday in the House of Representatives after political newcomer John Delaney defeated Republican incumbent Roscoe Bartlett in the state's westernmost district.
Redistricting in Maryland made Bartlett one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the nation by adding a large swath of Democratic-leaning Montgomery County to his district. With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Delaney had 58 percent of the vote, compared with 39 percent for Bartlett.
While there had been complaints that Bartlett's district had been unfairly gerrymandered against him, Delaney's victory was broad-based. He beat Bartlett by 20 percentage points in Bartlett's home county, Republican-leaning Frederick County.
Statewide, Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin won re-election to the U.S. Senate, defeating a Republican and a well-financed independent. In Maryland's other seven House races, incumbents _ six Democrats and one Republican _ all won re-election.
But it was Bartlett's 6th District race against Delaney that attracted the majority of attention. Bartlett was first elected to Congress in 1992 after the longtime incumbent, conservative Democrat Bev Byron, was knocked off in a primary. At age 86, Bartlett is the second-oldest member of the House.
Delaney claimed victory shortly before 10:30 p.m., and promised constituents at a celebration in Potomac that he would "work as hard as I can to use all of my abilities to make a difference in your lives."
Several hundred supporters cheered and waved blue-and-white signs as Delaney thanked them and repeated his campaign themes of job creation and progress through bipartisan cooperation.
"I fundamentally believe the best years are ahead of us. We just have to come together for the common good of the citizens," he said.
Bartlett conceded defeat in a written statement and congratulated Delaney.
"Although the election did not have the outcome we had hoped for, we can hold our heads high knowing that we have fought for the principles and values we care about," Bartlett said.
In Hagerstown, retired medical assistant Carolyn Barton, a registered Democrat, said she voted for Delaney as she cast her ballot at the Emmanuel United Methodist Church. Barton said she may have voted for Bartlett in the past "but he's getting old."
Registered Democrat Al Sedghi, a 51-year-old telecommunications consultant, voted at Robert Frost Middle School in Rockville for Delaney, partly because Delaney offered a detailed plan for improving education.
"We need to make sure that the schools have sufficient funds for loans and that people are able to attend colleges," he said.
Cardin defeated Republican Dan Bongino and independent Rob Sobhani. With 82 percent of precincts reporting, Cardin had 55 percent of the vote, compared to 27 percent for Bongino and 17 percent for Sobhani.
Cardin was first elected to the Senate in 2006 after a long career in the House of Representatives. Bongino is a former Secret Service agent. Sobhani had previously run unsuccessful campaigns as a Republican and spent more than $4 million of his own money to flood the airwaves and finance his run this year as an independent.
Cardin said in a phone interview Tuesday evening that in the next Congress "the most important thing is to work across party lines" and get a budget deal done that includes a mix of spending cuts and new revenue.
He congratulated Bongino for running "an honorable campaign" and declined to comment on Sobhani's candidacy.
Bongino conceded shortly after 9 p.m., saying he was disappointed but thankful for a grassroots campaign built by his volunteers. He said Cardin "has been a class act" as a competitor.
"We have political differences ... but we've actually become close friends," Bongino said of Cardin. "He's a good man, folks, It's on us now. He's our senator moving forward."
Sobhani, in a phone interview, conceded that he had lost, but as of 10 p.m. said he had not yet called Cardin to offer congratulations. Asked if he regretted spending so much money in a losing effort, he said, "it wasn't about the money. It was about the principle."
Associated Press writer Brett Zongker contributed to this report from Linthicum, Md.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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