Republican David Marks, perhaps riding a wave caused by a contentious Democratic primary and a national rise in Republican turnout, defeated Democrat Mike Ertel to take the District 5 seat in the Baltimore County Council.
Marks, 37, pulled away from Ertel, 44, in early voting and, as precincts started reporting results, the gap became wider. Ertel called Marks to concede around 11 p.m.
"First and foremost, I would like to thank the voters of the 5th District for putting their trust in me and I promise that I will live up to that trust," Marks said.
Marks, a transportation consultant and former chief of staff for the Maryland Department of Transportation, succeeds Democrat Vincent Gardina, who has served on the County Council since 1990.
At Silver Spring Mining Company in Perry Hall, supporters of Marks and other Republican candidates munched appetizers and told stories about a long day manning the polls as results came in.
Marks, who ran a full-time campaign since April, said his strategy consisted of door knocking, mailings and doing well in debates. He largely focused his efforts on Loch Raven and other parts of North Towson, which, he said, are generally friendlier to conservative candidates.
Still, he said, he owed the most support to the areas closest to home.
"I'm thankful to everyone who supported me, but I have a special place in my heart for the people of Perry Hall and Parkville who made this such a decisive win," he said.
Marks' father, Chuck, 74, said, "It's been a long hard campaign, and David had a lot of people helping him, but he deserves most of the credit. He gave up his full-time job, knocked on God knows how many doors and worked everyday to make this happen."
Marks' win might have also been aided by Ertel's brusing primary fight, . By early Tuesday night, even County Executive Jim Smith.
In Ertel's West Towson home, good feelings soon gave way to chin rubbing. Around 10:45 p.m., Ertel, of West Towson, thanked friends and supporters gathered in his Joppa Road home and acknowledged the race was out of reach.
"It doesn't look good," he said. "I don't see us overcoming what we have by now."
Before Ertel returned from visiting precincts Tuesday night, the candidate's father, Bill, gave his analysis. The elder Ertel, 63 and also a West Towson resident, volunteered for his son's campaign in Perry Hall, an experience he called "kind of interesting."
He said he encountered a lot of "anti-Democrat, anti-incumbent" sentiment, one echoed by . Many, he said, were "angry about what, you can't tell, but they were angry."
He also expressed frustration with voter apathy.
"It's like they're going to sweep people out but ... they don't know who's out and who's in," he said.
Mike Ertel urged Marks to pay attention to Towson residents as the district's next councilman.
"I would hope that he really looks at what people want in Towson versus what he thinks they want," Ertel said, adding that he hopes to see Marks "work hard" in the Loch Raven neighborhood.
Marks' wife, Stephanie, said the end of her husband's campaign didn't mean he'd be taking a rest anytime soon.
"I'm glad the campaign's over, but now the hard work really starts," she said.