Ben Cardin keeps U.S. Senate seat in Maryland

(AP) -- The popular and well-funded Ben Cardin has won a third term representing Maryland in the U.S. Senate.

The heavily-favored Democrat took victory in Tuesday's election over GOP challenger Tony Campbell and unaffiliated candidate Neal Simon.

Reached minutes after polls closed and The Associated Press called the race, Cardin said he was "very gratified and flattered" to again earn the confidence of Maryland's voters. He said he planned to focus on "advancing the values of the country" while boosting education and protecting health care, among other goals.

Political analysts had forecast that Cardin would cruise to re-election for more reasons than his campaign war chest -- last reported at roughly $3 million.

He has major name recognition in Maryland, serving 20 years in the U.S. House before becoming a senator in 2006.

His national profile has only grown during the Trump administration. The 75-year-old Cardin is the lead Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee.