Republican Wayne T. Gilchrest overcame negative ads, the state's political establishment and a high-powered money machine to defeat Democrat Tom McMillen last night in the bitterly fought race to represent Maryland's sprawling 1st Congressional District.
It was one of just five contests nationally in which two incumbents were vying for a single seat.
Meanwhile, Republican candidate Roscoe Bartlett defied conventional political wisdom by defeating Democrat Thomas H. Hattery, a state delegate, in the hard-hitting battle to succeed Beverly B. Byron in Western Maryland's 6th Congressional District.
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer beat Republican Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. in the redrawn 5th District, despite speculation by some political observers that Southern Maryland was too conservative to elect the liberal Democratic House leader.
Another Democratic state delegate, Albert R. Wynn of Prince George's County, will become the second African-American congressman in the state's delegation. He defeated GOP candidate Michele Dyson by a wide margin in the new majority-black 4th District that includes portions of Prince George's and Montgomery counties.
In Maryland's 2nd District, Republican Rep. Helen Delich Bentley beat back charges that she devoted too much time to pro-Serbian activities, easily dispatching Democrat Michael C. Hickey Jr. to capture a fifth term.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski sailed to victory over GOP nominee Alan L. Keyes, who drew less support than he did four years ago, when he lost to Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.
Mr. Keyes, a black conservative, harmed his candidacy by paying himself $8,500 a month from campaign funds and labeling his party racist at the Republican National Convention.
In other contests, Democratic Reps. Kweisi Mfume and Benjamin L. Cardin and Republican Rep. Constance A. Morella easily captured fourth terms against light opposition.
"This campaign is the mark of a new era," Mr. Gilchrest told cheering supporters last night at the Chestertown American Legion. "It is my humble opinion that we have broken the backs of political machines that are run on the big dollar."
Mr. McMillen delayed by two hours his arrival at his election night party at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie. He conceded the race at 11:15 p.m. and congratulated Mr. Gilchrest. "I wanted to run a positive campaign," a subdued Mr. McMillen told the crowd. "We shook hands on it and then the whole thing broke down."
Would he have done anything differently? No, said the congressman, adding, "Maybe if I was born on the Eastern Shore it would have helped a little bit."
The 1st District race pitted Mr. Gilchrest, a folksy former schoolteacher from Kent County, against Mr. McMillen, the former pro basketball player from Anne Arundel County who has represented Maryland's old 4th since 1987.
Throughout the campaign, Mr. Gilchrest portrayed Mr. McMillen as a slick jet-setter awash in special-interest money from political action committees. Mr. Gilchrest portrayed himself as a "non-partisan politician" who would consider legislation on its merit rather than party dictate.
Mr. Gilchrest was aided by a redistricting plan under which a majority of the district's voters -- 57 percent -- now live on his Eastern Shore turf.
The redrawn district includes all of the Eastern Shore, part of Anne Arundel County and a slice of Baltimore City.
But Mr. McMillen fought back by outspending Mr. Gilchrest by a 4-to-1 ratio, raising more than $1 million.
He used his significant campaign war chest to finance a barrage of negative ads and issues fliers that slammed Mr. Gilchrest for voting to cut Medicare.
One flier termed Mr. Gilchrest a "famous liar" for failing to keep a campaign promise to devote his $35,000 congressional pay raise to charity.