The political careers of Sen. John A. Pica Jr., D-City, and Del. John S. Arnick, D-Balto. Co., have been resurrected by final but still unofficial vote counts.
Pica was saved by absentee ballots; Arnick by the detection of two errors in the counting.
In other city races, the absentee ballot count has assured that a challenger will appear on the ballot with three incumbent Circuit Court judges. It has also thrown the House of Delegates race in the city's 46th District into confusion.
A vastly relieved Pica, for one, is vowing to be a better guy.
Arnick, who is House majority leader, said he feels more comfortable, too, since the election board's count now matches that compiled by his own workers on election night.
If Arnick's six-vote margin holds up after the official count Monday, he will have edged out his ticket mate, incumbent Del. Joseph "Sonny" Minnick, for the third spot on the three-member slate that survives the primary. Minnick, appointed to a vacancy in 1988, was facing his first election.
After absentee ballots in the 43rd District in Baltimore were counted yesterday, Pica had pulled out a 71-vote victory over Martin O'Malley in the Democratic primary, according to final but unofficial results.
"I'm in a state of shock," Pica said, adding that he had not slept much since Tuesday night, when the returns showed he could soon be a former senator.
"I think I've learned a lot about myself and what the people expect in the last two days," Pica said. He said O'Malley's campaign convinced him he must explain his positions better to his constituents and be more of an "advocate."
O'Malley, 27, a lawyer, ran an aggressive campaign that focused on Pica's missed votes in the Senate. "The things I would have done differently . . . I don't want to think about it," O'Malley said after the slender margin was announced.
In contrast with Pica's situation, Arnick's cause was unaffected by absentee ballots. In Towson, election board administrator Doris J. Suter said Arnick and Minnick each got 83 votes from the absentee ballots. The election outcome was changed, however, by detection of two small errors by local election judges, one for two votes and the other for 30, she said. Arnick had been trailing Minnick by 24 votes.
Suter said it's not uncommon to find small errors by election judges in making the official count, so the six-vote margin is not definite until the official count is done Monday.
Still, Arnick seemed relieved. "I feel better than I did yesterday," he said.
Minnick, predictably, did not. "First you're a loser, then a winner and then a loser again," he said. "The dear Lord just didn't mean for me to be a politician. I'm too nice a guy."
Suter said Arnick's final tally was 6,630, compared with 6,624 for Minnick in the race for the third and final delegate's seat. Challenger Connie Galiazzo came in second and Del. Louis L. DePazzo led the ticket.
The absentee ballot count didn't help the incumbents in the city Circuit Court judges' race.
The count confirmed that a challenger, District Court Judge Paul A. Smith, had narrowly won nomination over incumbent Judge John C. Themelis in the Democratic primary, increasing his 207-vote lead by 14 votes. Themelis gained nomination in the Republican primary.
That means that Smith and all three incumbent judges -- Ellen Hollander, Richard T. Rombro and Themelis -- will have to face voters again in November. Only three will be elected.
In the 46th District Democratic race for the House of Delegates, incumbents Cornell N. Dypski and Anthony M. DiPietro Jr. won renomination by comfortable margins.
But challenger Benjamin A. Neil, who thought he had won nomination for the district's vacant third seat by 55 votes over Carolyn Krysiak, saw his lead and 800 of his "votes" evaporate today as the machine tallies were rechecked following the absentee ballot count.
Their votes were being counted again today, but at last check, Krysiak led Neil by 731 votes.
Krysiak said today she was relieved by the turnabout but drained by the experience. "I used to like roller coaster rides; I'm not sure I do any more," she said.
Neil said, "It's not been one of my better days."
He expressed exasperation with the city's prolonged and chaotic vote count, in his race and several others, citing allegedly misplaced tally sheets and missing voting machine print packs in his district.
"Hopefully, the attorney general or someone will step in and clear these things up -- perhaps the special prosecutor or someone everyone has faith and confidence in, because someone at this point needs to take control," he said. "It is out of control."
City election officials said the count has gone badly because of inexperience, understaffing, human error and computer breakdowns. The board took over the job from the Police Department this year for the first time since the 1860s.