Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) declared victory Wednesday in an unexpectedly tight race for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, while Republican challenger Dan Bongino, trailing by a slender 2,166 votes, maintained that it was too close to call.

In a statement to supporters, Bongino said he will wait until the estimated 5,500 absentee ballots are counted.

“After 48,775 phone calls, 27,612 doors knocked and countless hours spent face to face speaking to Marylanders about what keeps them up at night, I feel it is only appropriate to allow every vote to be counted,” said Bongino, a former Secret Service agent.

The Delaney campaign contended Wednesday that the ­absentee math leans heavily in the incumbent’s favor.

Maryland State Board of Election figures show that 2,525 of the outstanding ballots are from Democrats, and 2,497 are from Republicans. Bongino would have to win all the Republican ballots and a significant chunk of the Democratic ones to pull ahead.

Maryland's 3rd congressional district

To calculate gerrymander scores, the district area was compared with the area of a circle with the same perimeter, then converted to a zero to 100 index. See how districts in other states compare at wapo.st/gerrymandered.
Source: Wonkblog.

“We have no reason to believe there’s going to be a huge swing,” said Delaney spokesman Will­ ­McDonald.

In his victory declaration, ­Delaney said: “I am humbled and honored to have been elected by the people of the 6th District to represent them again in ­Congress. April and I would like to thank everyone who supported our campaign. After a spirited campaign that defied national and statewide trends, 6th District voters endorsed our bipartisan approach. Nationwide, ­Tuesday’s results make it clear that voters want a new approach in Washington, not more ­dysfunction.”

The race was widely predicted to be easy for Delaney to win, based on the 2011 redrawing of Maryland congressional districts by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and a Democratic-controlled legislature.

In 2012, the changes increased liberal Montgomery County votes in the once-conservative Western Maryland district, ­enabling Delaney to oust longtime Republican incumbent ­Roscoe G. Bartlett.

Delaney said in an interview, however, that he never expected an easy race.

“We never viewed it as a cakewalk. In a midterm election year, it is definitely a purple district,” he said, meaning that neither party has a significant advantage.

Hogan’s path to the Md. governor’s office

The congressman attributed the tight margin to low turnout in the district and a governor’s race that became a referendum on O’Malley, who is finishing up his time in office.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan beat Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, O’Malley’s handpicked successor, in an upset that shocked the Democratic establishment.