Baltimore City Council races for the 8th, 11th and 12th districts were still too close to call as of Wednesday morning and will likely be decided by mail-in and provisional ballots that have yet to be counted.

The closest contest is in the 11th District, where incumbent Eric Costello has a slim 25-vote lead over newcomer Zac Blanchard. Costello is the chair of the budget committee and among the council’s highest fundraisers. The contest is the primary’s most expensive council race between an incumbent and a challenger. Blanchard received more votes on election day, but Costello leads in mail-in votes. Blanchard serves as the neighborhood association president of Federal Hill, where he and Costello both live.

The second-closest council race is in the 8th District between outreach worker Paris Gray and former state Del. Bilal Ali. By late Tuesday night, Gray had a slight, 53-vote lead over Ali. Gray, 37, gathered more votes in early voting and on election day, but Ali, 72, had more mail-in votes so far.

Gray was backed by Mayor Brandon Scott, who has all but secured a second term in office, beating Sheila Dixon in a rematch of the Democratic mayoral primary. Ali supported Dixon in the mayor’s race.

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In the 12th District race, Jermaine Jones, chief of staff of a labor union, held a lead of 140 votes over incumbent Robert Stokes Sr.

The 8th District is one of the most closely watched races in the 15-member City Council. The winner of Tuesday’s primary will advance to November’s general election and, as of now, will run unopposed as no Republican or third-party candidate has filed to enter.

The district’s current representative, Kristerfer Burnett, will leave office at the end of the year after two terms. He announced last June he was leaving politics and gave his support to Gray, who has worked as the office’s community outreach coordinator since 2020.

The other closely watched race is for the 1st District seat, which was also left vacant when incumbent Zeke Cohen left to run for City Council president. As of last night, Cohen appeared to have a victory locked up with sizable leads over both Shannon Sneed and incumbent Nick Mosby, whose ex-wife and former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was convicted of mortgage fraud and perjury.

Most of the City Council seats will likely not change in the next term with the majority of incumbents posting large leads on primary day. Two incumbents, Odette Ramos and Mark Conway, ran unopposed.

In Baltimore, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by a roughly 10-to-1 margin, the Democratic primary race almost always determines the outcome of the general election. While some of Tuesday’s finishers will face opposition in the fall, those races will likely not be competitive.

Hugo Kugiya is a reporter for the Express Desk and has formerly reported for the Associated Press, Newsday, and the Seattle Times.

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