U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky will enter his 15th term representing the 1st District, defeating Republican challenger Joel Phelps on Tuesday.
Visclosky replaces retiring GOP Rep. Dan Burton as the state's senior congressman.
Having represented the region since 1985, Visclosky, a Democrat from Merrillville, said each time he is re-elected, he is thankful to the voters.
"I do not take any election for granted," he said.
His length in office was part of the argument Phelps used in trying to unseat Visclosky. Voters don't like career politicians, Phelps said.
"People are ready for something new," Phelps said, as the first numbers trickled in Tuesday night.
The Portage industrial engineer, who gathered with supporters at Living Stones Church Youth Center in Crown Point, said he wanted to bring fresh, new ideas to the table. He predicted Tuesday's election would be a win for nonincumbents.
But, the numbers did not end up in his favor.
"I'm proud of our team and how hard everybody worked," Phelps said. "I think we showed Lake County and the region is starting to wake up to a new vision."
Phelps did not rule out a future run for office, saying there needs to be a better climate in Lake County for Republicans and see if there's support for another run.
Visclosky said he will continue to bring various groups together to benefit the region.
He created the Marquette Plan redeveloping the Lake Michigan shoreline and has focused on the region's infrastructure.
He obtained $73 million in federal funds for improvements to cut delays on local freight railroad tracks. He also has worked to fund highway construction and expansion of the South Shore Line to Lowell and Valparaiso.
In a Times questionnaire, he pledged to continue to fight for the local steel industry and manufacturing base that powers the local economy and to invest in public infrastructure that drives private sector development.
He also said it is past due to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan.