A known commodity in Maryland politics for more than 40 years, Cardin, a Democrat, aligned himself closely with the policies of President
"The key to the next term, certainly the next two years, is that we have to get very serious about our deficit — we've got to work across party lines," Cardin said in an interview.
The more compelling political contest became the race for second place — pitting newcomer Republican
Early, unofficial results showed Bongino with a wide lead over Sobhani.
Though many considered the race Cardin's to lose, the 69-year-old
Cardin, a former speaker of the
A leading voice in Washington on water-quality issues — particularly the Chesapeake Bay cleanup — Cardin has advocated for a "balanced approach" of taxes and spending cuts to deal with budget deficits. Bongino took a hard-line stance against new taxes and vowed to repeal the 2010 health care law. Sobhani centered his campaign around a plan to bring private investment into the state as a way to boost the economy.
Bongino, 37, took the state
"We are disappointed, but we ran a race we are proud of," Bongino said. "Senator Cardin is a class act, and although we had political differences, they were never personal."
Bongino initially had a distant relationship with some of his party's establishment leaders, but many Republican stalwarts began rallying to his side after Potomac businessman Sobhani showed up at the State Board of Elections in September with enough signatures to put his name on the ballot as an independent. Sobhani, 52, ran as a Republican candidate for Senate in 1992 and 2000.
In the final weeks of the campaign, Bongino and Sobhani began directing fire at each other. The lack of focus on Cardin caused many to speculate that both men were posturing for a statewide run down the road, possibly for governor in 2014. The candidates themselves dismissed such talk.
"The sand on which the institutional barriers to an independent candidacy rest are shifting, and soon the voices of those who have [been] left behind by our broken system will be heard in greater numbers," Sobhani spokesman Sam Patten said in a statement.