U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, the last New England Republican in the House of Representatives, lost his 11th bid for re-election amid overwhelming support for Democrats in Connecticut.
"I felt that we were going to win this, I really did," he told supporters in Norwalk, conceding the race to Democrat Jim Himes. "I felt that people were so good to me. But they were deciding they were going to go the other way."
Himes celebrated with supporters in Norwalk. "We have in many ways changed history tonight," he told the cheering crowd.
Shays said he had no regrets in his battle against Himes, a former Goldman Sachs vice president who now runs an affordable housing organization.
"If you think we lost this race because we didn't go negative, you're just wrong," Shays said. "We lost this race because we did our very best but we had this tsunami that was on its way."
Himes will join at least three other Democrats in Connecticut's House delegation. Rep. Joseph Courtney, D-2nd District, defeated Republican Sean Sullivan, a former submarine commander, 65 percent to 33 percent, with 57 percent of the vote cast.
"It feels terrific," Courtney said. "It's obviously a big vote of confidence in the work that I've done in the last two years."
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of New Haven won a 10th term in Connecticut's 3rd District by defeating Republican Bo ItsHaky of Bethany, 77 percent to 21 percent with 38 percent of votes counted. U.S. Rep. John Larson of East Hartford won his sixth term by defeating West Hartford Republican Joseph Visconti, 71 percent to 26 percent with 50 percent of votes cast.
Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy was leading Republican state Sen. David Cappiello in the 5th District race, 57 percent to 41 percent with 50 percent of the vote counted.
Tuesday's election was the third highly competitive election in a row for Shays. Former Westport First Selectman Diane Farrell made the war in Iraq the focus of her 2004 and 2006 campaigns, which Shays narrowly won with 52 percent of the vote in 2004 and 51 percent in 2006.
This year, it was the economy that appeared to bolster Himes' chances.
A University of Connecticut poll last month showed both Shays and Himes receiving support from 44 percent of likely voters.
Shays' brother, Peter, was not confident of a victory Tuesday night. Peter Shays said his brother told his staff on Monday night that he would "never leave the high ground" and run a negative re-election campaign.
"And he got hurt a little bit with that," Peter Shays said.