Larry Hogan wins re-election as Maryland governor

(AP) -- Larry Hogan became the first Republican governor to win re-election in Maryland since 1954 by beating Democrat Ben Jealous on Tuesday.

Hogan, who is only the second Republican governor to win two terms in Maryland's history, won in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

Hogan has maintained a moderate political course, advocating lower taxes and fiscal responsibility. He has emphasized bipartisanship at a time of deep partisan division in the nation's capital nearby. He also kept his distance from President Donald Trump, who is unpopular in Maryland. Supporters chanted loudly "Larry! Larry! Larry!" as Hogan took the stage in a crowded conference room in an Annapolis, Maryland, hotel. Hogan said he would be "a governor for all Marylanders."

"Tonight, the voters of Maryland put aside divisive partisan politics, and the people in our great state voted for civility, for bipartisanship and for commonsense leadership," he said.

His Democratic challenger took to a stage at a historic Baltimore theater late Tuesday to concede defeat. Jealous, a former leader of the NAACP who was trying to become Maryland's first black governor, told supporters he called Hogan to wish him the best, saying he had "no doubt that he cares deeply about our state and the families who call it home."

A number of voters in Baltimore, historically a Democratic stronghold, said they supported the candidates who practiced pragmatism and were willing to listen to differing views and then implement changes. Many were enthusiastically supporting Hogan.

"The U.S. right now is in a lot of turmoil and we need politicians who are serious about their jobs," said Venus Jackson, a 25-year-old employee of a downtown Baltimore parking garage. "If you are a reasonable Republican like Hogan and you have a good track record, then I'll support you no problem. But those Republicans are pretty rare these days."

Other Maryland voters also cited displeasure with politics in nearby Washington.

Peter Stone, an independent voter, said he voted for all Democrats, though he made an exception for Hogan and voted for him.

"I'm protest-voting right now in terms of: I'm not voting for any Republican who has anything nice to say about the president," Stone said after voting in Annapolis, Maryland, noting that Hogan has taken stands against the president.

Hogan won an upset victory four years ago using public campaign finance funds. This time, he held a large fundraising edge over Jealous that enabled him to out-advertise his opponent.

Meanwhile, the popular and well-funded Ben Cardin cruised to a third term representing Maryland in the U.S. Senate, easily defeating a GOP challenger and an unaffiliated candidate in Tuesday's midterm elections.

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.

Hogan has shown a willingness to join Democrats, such as when he embraced legislation to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the state last year.

He also has taken actions on his own that have been popular with voters. A lowering of road and bridge tolls in his first year is one of the best examples.

Hogan also won over voters in rural parts of the state who had come to feel abandoned for the more populated parts of the state in the suburbs of the nation's capital and Baltimore, the state's largest city. And he won plaudits for efforts to restore state transportation aid to local governments that had been tapped during the recession years to help plug budget holes.

This year, Hogan was able to highlight a bipartisan agreement with Democrats to rescue the state's financially struggling health care exchange and prevent steep rate hikes.

At the statehouse, the focus is on whether Republicans can win five seats to break a supermajority held by Democrats. That would have a considerable impact on state government in Maryland, after Hogan's victory, because Democrats would not be able to override his vetoes. Democrats now hold a 33-14 advantage in the Senate, and they need 29, or a three-fifths vote, to override a veto. The Maryland House of Delegates has 91 Democrats and 50 Republicans. They need 85 votes for a supermajority in that chamber.

Maryland's 6th Congressional District race was for the only open seat in Maryland's eight-member U.S. House delegation. David Trone, a Democrat and co-owner of a national wine store chain, won that race Tuesday night, edging out Amie Hoeber, a Republican and national security consultant. The district stretches from the suburbs of the nation's capital to the borders of West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, the state's lone Republican congressman, defeated Democrat Jesse Colvin in the district that includes Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Voters also will be deciding two constitutional amendments. One would require casino revenue set aside for schools to be used to enhance education spending above state funding formulas. The other would allow residents to register to vote at their polling places on Election Day.