WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- While Republicans claimed a sweeping victory by taking control of the the US House of Representatives Tuesday, Southeastern North Carolina's seat in Washington will remain on the Democratic side of the aisle. Incumbent Mike McIntyre won an eighth term in Congress. During a victory speech in Lumberton Tuesday night, McIntyre expressed gratitude for his supporters.
"Our commitment is for you, the people of Southeastern North Carolina," McIntyre said. "That's what we'll go back to Washington to fight for: the people of Southeastern North Carolina and your values."
McIntyre's Republican challenger Ilario Pantano conceded during a speech at the Blockade Runner at Wrightsville Beach earlier in the evening. Pantano, a former Marine, told supporters he would be back to fight another day.
"In the end we achieved a mission," Pantano told WWAY. "We got a conservative majority back in the Congress. That's what we really needed to do to save our country."
Pantano would not commit to running again in 2012, he did leave the door open. In the meantime, he thanked McIntyre for his continued service, but said he and his supporters will be watching the Congressman "to make sure he stays on the straight and narrow."
As McIntyre heads back to Washington, he called for unity within the 7th District.
"We want all people to work together. We welcome everyone," McIntyre said. "I've always sought to work with Republicans, Democrats, Independents. So I hope all of us now can say, 'The campaign's over. Let's work together.' There's too much at stake for our country and Southeastern North Carolina not to do so. We're ready to work together.