Potomac businessman John K. Delaney lodged a convincing victory Tuesday in Maryland's 6th District Democratic congressional primary, beating a candidate who was backed by many of the state's most powerful Democrats.
Mr. Delaney, who has never held public office, defeated state Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Garagiola in the race for the district's Democratic nomination, setting up a November showdown with incumbent Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett who easily won the GOP race.
The district — which includes Western Maryland and much of Montgomery County — has long been one of the state's few conservative strongholds but was redrawn last fall by Democrats to give them a better shot at winning its congressional seat, which Mr. Bartlett has held since 1993.
Many political observers said the district was drawn specifically to elect Mr. Garagiola, a 39-year-old rising star in state politics who was endorsed by a slew of leading Democrats including Gov. Martin O'Malley, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer.
But Mr. Delaney, who has never held political office, rode a wave of campaign momentum to a victory that he said was brought on by voters who want a candidate who has real-world business experience and is not driven by insider politics.
"This election was about independence," said Mr. Delaney, who claimed victory at about 10:30 p.m., shortly after the Garagiola campaign conceded. "People didn't think we could do this but we proved them wrong."
The 6th District primary was expected to be one of Maryland's most interesting races Tuesday, but both Mr. Delaney and Mr. Bartlett coasted to victories, with Mr. Bartlett beating a field of GOP challengers including state Sen. David R. Brinkley.
Mr. Bartlett, 85, overcame rumors of his potential retirement to rally in recent months, establishing the upper hand over a crowded GOP field.
Mr. Delaney outlasted Mr. Garagiola in a fierce and sometimes negative campaign but received valuable endorsements from Democrats including former President Bill Clinton, former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Maryland Rep. Donna F. Edwards.
"What I saw in John Delaney was his intellect, his integrity and his independence," Ms. Edwards said. "I think the voters of the district really wrapped themselves around that and I think the results demonstrate that."
Maryland voters also took to the polls Tuesday to pick a Republican presidential candidate and choose Democratic and Republican nominees in this fall's U.S. Senate and House races.
In the presidential primary, Republican voters overwhelmingly chose Mitt Romney over challengers Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, extending the GOP frontrunner's lead as he hopes to accumulate a majority of Republican convention delegates by the June 26 Utah primary.
The state's eight House incumbents — six Democrats and two Republicans — also had easy victories.
In the state's lone U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin won a landslide victory over state Sen. C. Anthony Muse and will face either Daniel J. Bongino or Richard J. Douglas, two Republicans who were locked in a close primary race as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.
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