Niki Tsongas ran away with an easy win last night over Republican challenger Jon Golnik in her first contested re-election to Congress.
Tsongas took the Fifth Congressional District by more than 25,000 votes, winning big in Lawrence, Haverhill and Lowell and pulling out closely contested races in Andover and Methuen.
The Lowell Democrat held a 55 to 42 percent advantage over Golnik late last night with just over 90 percent of precincts reporting.
Independent Dale Brown of Chelmsford finished with 2 percent and independent Bob Clark of Berlin with 1 percent.
"I want to thank you for your confidence in me and for giving me the privilege of representing you in Congress once again," Tsongas told about 100 supporters last night in downtown Lowell. "I want you all to know that I will not let you down."
Tsongas said last night that her priority will remain job creation.
"To all of those who are unemployed or underemployed or desperately trying to hold on to jobs while big corporations ship them overseas, I pledge to you that there will be no more urgent priority than to create the jobs that will get our economy back on track and get you back to work," she said. "And I will not stand by while the jobs we need are shipped abroad. I will stand with you."
In January, Republican Scott Brown won 20 of 29 communities in the Fifth District during his historic run to the U.S. Senate.
But last night, Tsongas was victorious in at least 19 Fifth District cities and towns. She was also one of nine incumbent Democrats among the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to win re-election last night.
But, Tsongas will return to Washington as a member of the minority party, after the Democrats lost control of the House to the GOP.
Tsongas said bipartisanship is something she has already embraced as a lawmaker.
"We always sought out support across the aisle," Tsongas said. "I did that even though we had the majority."
Tsongas was first elected to Congress in October 2007, when she fended off Republican Jim Ogonowski in a special election to succeed Marty Meehan who resigned to become chancellor of UMass-Lowell. She ran unopposed in 2008.
Her support of health care reform was what won her the support of Andover resident Ben Kellman, 63, a middle school wood shop teacher.
"I'm with her on it," said Kellman. "It was time for change and it's a step in the right direction."
Bob Beaudoin, a 61-year-old clinical social worker from Methuen, said he voted for Tsongas simply because he didn't want to see Golnik elected to Congress.
"I'm not fond of her, but I'm less fond of Golnik," said Beaudoin. "He's just too far to the right. He's just not in touch with people's needs."
Golnik, a small business owner from Carlisle, attempted to ride a conservative wave on the heels of Brown's victory earlier this year.
But he, like all Republican congressional challengers in the state, fell short.
"We ran a good race, a race we can all be proud of," said Golnik from his election night event at a Billerica hotel. "We ran an inclusive race. We didn't concede any towns ... I don't know what I'd do differently."
Golnik acknowledged the tremendous fundraising advantage Tsongas held.
"I promised I'd take our voices down to Washington," said Golnik. "We need to keep fighting to keep our voices heard. That's how we can make some change."
Change was exactly why Methuen resident Marianne Zappala voted for Golnik.
"We need a change," said the 53-year-old food service director.
Richard Fitzgerald, 61, of Andover, voted for Golnik because he believes lower taxes will ultimately boost the economy.
"I'm tired of taxes," said Fitzgerald. "I'm tired of growing government and I think the Republican candidates are people that will cut government spending, cut government waste, and lower taxes, hopefully."
Staff writer Ross Marrinson contributed to this report.