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Politicsby Fern Shen and Mark Reutter8:41 pmMay 23, 20240

In big primary upset, 11th District’s Costello concedes to newcomer Zac Blanchard

Paris Gray declares victory over Bilal Ali for the open 8th District seat, while Jermaine Jones holds a strong lead over 12th District Councilman Robert Stokes Sr.

Above: Community leader Zac Blanchard and City Councilman Eric Costello.

After a decade on the Baltimore City Council, where he accumulated power under a succession of mayors and held sway with the downtown business community, Councilman Eric T. Costello conceded today that he lost his 11th District re-election bid to political novice Zac Blanchard.

Following ballot counting that has had the city on tenterhooks since last week’s primary, Blanchard came away with a 43 vote lead.

Given the few remaining votes left to count, Costello realized he had no chance of winning the Democratic primary, whose victor is overwhelmingly favored to win the November general election.

“I am exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to serve you for the last decade,” Costello said in a statement posted on social media today.

“The 11th District may be one of the most challenging districts in the state of Maryland, and I have poured everything I have into the role,” said Costello, who telephoned Blanchard to concede the race.

Going into the primary, Costello seemingly had an easy path – including a hefty war chest ($509,000 cash on hand) and an alliance with Sheila Dixon, the former mayor who was seeking a return to office.

His kingmaker aspirations didn’t pan out.

Dixon lost, Costello failing even to pull in votes for her in his South Baltimore and midtown domains.

Costello had the backing of Governor Wes Moore, but not the majority of district voters.

Costello had the backing of Governor Wes Moore, but not the majority of district voters.

Other candidates he backed financially who also failed to appeal to Democratic voters:

• The 1st District’s Liam Davis, who lost to Mark Parker.

• City Council President Nick Mosby, who was walloped by Zeke Cohen.

• Margo Bruner-Settles, a city employee who challenged incumbent Ryan Dorsey, losing by a wide margin in the 3rd.

Blanchard, a former Marine who serves as a vice president for the Midtown Community Benefits District, mounted a robust campaign to unseat him, aided by funds generated through the city’s new public financing system.

Zac blanchard we wonIn a message to supporters tonight, Blanchard thanked campaign volunteers and eight public interest groups, including the Sierra Club, Bikemore and Maryland Child Alliance.

“We have so many huge challenges in our amazing city. I’ll celebrate this hard-fought victory, then I’ll get to work preparing myself to help address those challenges. I promise District 11 residents that I will be ready to hit the ground running after the inauguration,” he wrote.

Councilman Robert Stokes (Brew file photo).

Councilman Robert Stokes is losing to Jermaine Jones in the 12th District. (Brew file photos)

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

Status of Two Other Races

Two other close races from the May 14 primary are nearing resolution.

Paris Gray, a candidate for the open 8th District seat in West Baltimore, declared victory over Bilal Ali, a former state delegate heavily financed by his employer, Columbia-based drug treatment provider CMDS.

In the Eastside’s 12th District, labor organizer Jermaine Jones has expanded his lead over Robert Stokes Sr., a two-term incumbent who was financially backed by Costello, restaurateurs Alex and Eric Smith, garbage hauler Jack Haden, City Hall lobbyists Frank D. Boston and Lisa Harris Jones, and several developers, including Larry Jennings, Kevin Johnson, Continental Realty and Caves Valley Partners.

Stokes has yet to concede.

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