updated 3/2/2006 11:27:39 AM ET 2006-03-02T16:27:39

Maryland Sen. John Giannetti was waiting for his penne pasta and meatballs order at an Italian restaurant when he saw a man choking. Giannetti rushed over, performed the Heimlich maneuver, dislodged a chunk of seafood, and possibly saved the life of his opponent in an upcoming race.

The choking man, Jim Rosapepe, is challenging Giannetti in the Democratic primary for the suburban Washington district.

"It's one of those really weird, cosmic things," Giannetti told The (Annapolis) Capital. He said Rosapepe was hunched over and moving toward him in distress, so he decided to try performing the Heimlich.

Rosapepe thanked his opponent for saving him Monday, though the race is still on.

"Obviously, it's an incredible coincidence, and a happy coincidence," said Rosapepe, a member of the University of Maryland system's Board of Regents.

Similar incident
It's not the first time in recent months that a Maryland politician saved someone from choking.

Last October, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, a Democrat running for governor, performed the Heimlich maneuver on a county commissioner who choked on a chicken sandwich while the two dined.

In the Senate, ruled by Democrats, President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he hoped the Annapolis Italian restaurant event would soften competition between the two Democratic candidates.

"Maybe this means we'll see a more uplifting campaign as a result," Miller told The Washington Post. "I mean, I would think you'd be very hard-pressed to say anything bad about a man who saved your life."

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