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Campaign 2024

Politicsby Mark Reutter12:31 amMay 15, 20240

Challengers are running strong against Costello and Stokes in 11th and 12th Council districts

A surprise in the 11th District where an ex-Marine engineered a serious assault on the fiefdom of incumbent Councilman Eric Costello

Above: First-time candidate Zac Blanchard is toe-to-toe with incumbent Eric Costello. (blanchardforbaltimore.com)

Union organizer Jermaine Jones has pulled ahead of incumbent City Councilman Robert Stokes in the 12th District, while political newcomer Zac Blanchard is staging a robust challenge to Eric T. Costello, darling of developers and downtown businessmen.

With all 23 precincts reporting in the 12th District, which was expanded this year to include Harbor East and environs, Jones is leading Stokes 52% to 48%.

In the 11th District, Marine veteran Blanchard – running a grassroots, publicly financed campaign – has surprised observers by closing the gap with Eric Costello.

With all 19 precincts reporting, the race is nearly a photo finish, with Costello ahead of Blanchard by 25 votes out of 5,105 cast and with provisional and some mail-in ballots yet to count.

Costello has so far done well with mail-in ballots, which might give him a needed cushion for victory.

In other Council races, Mark Parker outpaced Liam Davis in the First District and has declared victory, and incumbent Ryan Dorsey beat back Margo Bruner-Settles by a wide margin in the 3rd District.

Both Parker and Dorsey faced candidates that were sponsored by Costello and his allies.

In the 8th District, Paris Gray edged past former state Delegate Bilal Ali by 53 votes. With provisional and other ballots not yet counted, the race remains a toss up.

Labor leader Jermaine Jones took on 12thDistrict City Councilman Robert Stokes Sr. (jermainejones.com)

Labor organizer Jermaine Jones took on 12th District Councilman Robert Stokes. BELOW: Mark Parker, pastor of Breath of God Lutheran Church, defeated Baltimore Department of Transportation legislative manager Liam Davis in the 1st.

Mark Parker, winner of the 1st District City Council seat that opened up when Zeke Cohen opted to run for City Council President. (markparker.cc)

Other Setbacks for Costello

Costello has spent the election cycle raising campaign funds and solidifying his role as a self-appointed powerbroker.

He sponsored changes to the City Charter to permit a controversial apartment high rise at Harborplace, transferred his campaign funds to the challenger of Council colleague Ryan Dorsey, huddled with media mogul David D. Smith, and vigorously supported Sheila Dixon in her bid to unseat incumbent Mayor Brandon Scott and return to City Hall.

Another prize he won: Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s only full-throated endorsement of a city candidate.

But in the end, most of his political gambles did not match up with voter sentiment.

In the high-stakes mayoral battle, for example, Scott proved victorious.

With 295 of 295 election day precincts reporting, Scott is ahead of Dixon by a 10% margin and has declared himself the winner.

Also backed  by Costello: City Council President Nick Mosby, who was trounced by First District Councilman Zeke Cohen.

Which raises the prospect that even if he survives the primary challenge, Costello will lose his powerful positions as chair of the Council’s Ways and Means and Legislative Investigations committees as well as face a second-term mayor, Council president and at least one Council member not enthralled by his political maneuvering.

Eric Costello confers with City Council President during Council hearings to chasnge the City Charter to accommodate developer Dav id Bramble. BELOW: Costello advertised heavily on the nonprofit Baltimore Banner website.

Eric Costello confers with City Council President Nick Mosby during hearings to amend the City Charter to accommodate developer David Bramble’s Harborplace plans. (Fern Shen) BELOW: Costello advertised heavily on the nonprofit Baltimore Banner website.

Screenshot 2024-05-13 at 15-11-50 The Baltimore Banner Baltimore News Politics Business Food Events

10 Incumbents to Return

In other news: 10 Council incumbents faced little or no opposition in the Democratic primary.

They are now positioned to win the general election in November, where no Republican has won a Council seat in nearly a century.

Those destined to return to City Hall for a new four-year term are:

Danielle McCray (2nd District), Ryan Dorsey (3rd), Mark Conway (4th), Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer (5th), Sharon Green Middleton (6th), James Torrence (7th), John Bullock (9th), Phylicia Porter (10th), Antonio Glover (13th) and Odette Ramos (14th).

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