Cardin launches re-election campaign


Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin

kicked off his re-election campaign Sunday, promising several hundred supporters that he'd fight for better schools, more jobs, a cleaner environment and access to health care.

"It's not about this election. It's about the next generation," Cardin said from a pier near the Baltimore Museum of Industry.


He also vowed to fight

tea party

politicians and what he called their attempts to "turn back" social programs, women's rights and civil rights.

Supporter Helen Stith-Smith, 66, cheered on Cardin for his near-15-minute speech. He was joined by most of the state's Democratic leaders, including Gov.

Martin O'Malley

, U.S.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski

and Baltimore Mayor

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake


"He's done the right thing for us," the


resident said while holding a campaign sign. "He has been there for us. I love him and will support him any way I can."

In Congress, Cardin, 68, has established himself as a leader on fiscal and environmental issues.

He appears well positioned to win a second term. He has been raising cash at a solid clip and has more than $2.3 million in the bank,

Federal Election Commission

reports show.

Cardin may face a challenge in the April 3 primary from state Sen.

C. Anthony Muse


Prince George's County

. On the Republican side, the candidate who appears to be campaigning most aggressively is former

U.S. Secret Service agent

Daniel Bongino of

Severna Park


Bongino welcomed Cardin to the race, saying he looked forward to an issues-based campaign. "Marylanders are eager to turn the page on status quo politics," Bongino said.

Before Cardin's 2006 election to the


to succeed

Paul Sarbanes

, he served in the

House of Representatives

for 20 years. He also had a long run in the

Maryland General Assembly

, where he was speaker of the House of Delegates.