Eric Costello, a well-funded and influential member of Baltimore’s 15-member City Council, has conceded in his bid for reelection in the city’s shockingly close 11th District council race, he said in a Thursday afternoon social media post.

Within a few minutes of the end of the day’s vote counting, Costello posted that he had called opponent Zac Blanchard to wish him well representing Central and South Baltimore neighborhoods. Blanchard leads by just 43 votes as city election officials tally the final ballots ahead of Friday’s deadline to certify results.

Blanchard overtook Costello Tuesday and has held on to small leads each day as remaining ballots were counted. It’s not clear how many ballots remain, though city Board of Elections workers will continue to count more votes Friday. On Thursday, canvassers made their way through a little more than 1,000 additional provisional ballots, which they began to tally on Wednesday.

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Meanwhile, in the open 8th District race, West Baltimore community outreach coordinator Paris Gray is up by 235 votes and declared victory Thursday evening. He’s hoping to claim the seat currently held by his boss, City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, and fend off a challenge from former state Del. Bilal Ali.

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In an interview, Ali said late Thursday that he considered it “disrespectful” to call the race at this time, saying Gray’s lead was “not insurmountable.”

“Why not wait until we have the final numbers?” Ali said, adding that he would “move on” if the final ballots don’t skew his way.

But Gray said he was confident his lead would hold, allowing him to “move forward” and start thinking about his transition.

In the 12th District, labor organizer Jermaine Jones leads incumbent Councilman Robert Stokes Sr. by 365 votes, with 2,667 votes overall. Stokes, an East Baltimore stalwart, had 2,302 votes by the end of the day Thursday.

Friday is the deadline for local boards of election to certify results and send them to the state. Mail ballots postmarked by May 14 could still arrive and be counted before certification. Candidates must file a petition for a recount by Tuesday.

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Blanchard, a former marine and political novice, used the city’s newly instituted public financing system to mount a challenge against Costello, who possesses one of the heftiest war chests in the city. Blanchard blitzed neighborhood billboards, television commercials and direct mailers with his name and face while Costello blew through more than $120,000 in the race’s final weeks, according to campaign finance records.

A City Hall veteran of about 10 years, Costello was the lone council endorser of former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who challenged Mayor Brandon Scott in the May 14 Democratic mayoral primary. It was a political gamble that may have cost him: Scott declared victory in the race by the end of election day and currently holds a victory margin of about 12 percentage points.

Costello also spent heavily this year on other city races, using campaign funds to boost 1st District council candidate Liam Davis, 3rd District council challenger Margo Bruner-Settles and Dixon, all of whom came up short.

Still, he started the campaign season with nearly $500,000 on hand and won the coveted endorsement of Gov. Wes Moore, who declined to endorse candidates in any other city race.

But Blanchard used what money he had to knock on doors and spread awareness about his unlikely challenge. With help from Reddit and other social media platforms, he defied the odds — all while winning fewer endorsements and using a campaign finance strategy that relied only on small contributions from residents and matching city money.

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Costello, meanwhile, racked up the support, including from AFSCME Maryland Council 3, one of the state’s largest labor unions for public employees, as well as from several high-ranking state lawmakers and two of Baltimore’s top law enforcement officials, Sheriff Sam Cogen and State’s Attorney Ivan Bates.

In his concession post, Costello described the 11th District as “one of the most challenging” in the state.

“I have poured everything I have into the role,” he said. “I respect the outcome of the election and, while disappointed, remain committed to finishing out my term by working hard for my constituents like I have for the last decade.”

That work includes presiding over the council during its ongoing budget writing, which kicked off its marathon hearing schedule this week. In an interview earlier this spring, Costello said he’s assisted “tens of thousands” of constituents with service requests and aided city residents outside his district when they needed attention from higher levels of government.

“I prioritize constituent services and being responsive,” he said. “That’s a reputation I’m proud of.”

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Blanchard, the vice president of economic development for the Midtown Community Benefits District and a high school football coach, framed himself as a clear contrast to the incumbent. As a council member, he said he would seek to build mentorship programming for youths throughout the district and join the city’s newly greenlit push to establish a new property tax rate for vacant and blighted homes.

“I know from coaching that when our kids thrive, the whole neighborhood thrives,” he said.

In an email blast Thursday, Blanchard said he would celebrate the “hard-fought” victory and then get to work.

”I promise District 11 residents that I will be ready to hit the ground running after the Inauguration,” he wrote. “Over the course of this race, I made a lot of campaign promises. I can’t wait to get to work keeping them.”

Immediately after Costello conceded the race, he walked into council chambers to preside over Thursday night’s budget hearing. The room fell silent. Seconds later, the hearing resumed, Costello in charge — if only for a while longer.