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Maryland state Sen. Andy Harris (R) called Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Frank Kratovil (D) on Tuesday to concede Maryland’s 1st district race. The battle for the Eastern Shore-based seat to replace Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R) — who was defeated by Harris in the primary — became one of the closest elections of the 2008 cycle.

The Maryland State Board of Elections is set to announce the official vote tally on Friday, but in counting that has continued one week after Election Day, Kratovil now leads by about 2,000 votes.

“I called Frank Kratovil to congratulate him personally on his victory in this long and hard fought campaign — and to wish him and his family well,” Harris said in a statement. “We vigorously debated many issues throughout this campaign, but now it is time for us all to come together as Americans united to solve the many serious problems facing this country.”

The conservative Harris ousted Gilchrest in a bitter GOP primary in February, and Kratovil moved quickly to exploit the fact that Harris lived in Baltimore County rather than on the Shore. The Democrat cast himself as the natural heir to Gilchrest, and even won the Congressman’s support just after Labor Day.

Praise from Kratovil’s new colleagues also has begun pouring in. Fellow Marylander and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released a statement Tuesday afternoon congratulating the Democrat and praising him for his “campaign of ideas and integrity.”

Hoyer said Kratovil “will be a wonderful partner in Congress and a fantastic representative for the people of the First District.”

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