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Cardin launches re-election campaign

U.S.

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.

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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.

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Martin O'Malley
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, U.S.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski

and Baltimore Mayor

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Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
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.

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

Pikesville

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

of

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

Senate

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.

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