Richard M. Yaffe took time away from running his Pikesville ambulance company over the summer to spend several hours a day knocking on doors and shaking hands.
Yesterday, all the Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates could do was sit in his cluttered campaign office and wait.
Just 156 votes short, but with an untold number of ballots still uncounted, Yaffe was among a small number of candidates in Baltimore County who won't be sure of their political fate for a while.
"I'm feeling great," Yaffe, 50, said after hanging up with a campaign worker who had called to express his support. "My phone hasn't stopped. Everybody already wants me to do it again. We haven't lost yet, but they want me to do it again."
In another close race, 13 votes separated Middle River Democrats Rebecca L. Nelson and James G. Stavropoulos Jr. in the House of Delegates primary in District 7, which covers parts of eastern Baltimore County and some of Harford County.
Incumbent Chris Cavey was fewer than 400 votes ahead of Del. A. Wade Kach in the race for chairman of the county Republican Central Committee, but Kach said it appeared he had lost.
In the Democratic primary for state's attorney, Scott D. Shellenberger stopped short of claiming victory, even with more than 54 percent of the vote, but opponent Stephen L. Miles conceded defeat. Attorney Arthur M. Frank did not appear to be mathematically eliminated in his run for a Circuit Court judgeship to the general election, but he acknowledged yesterday that he had come up short.
Jacqueline K. McDaniel, director of the county elections board, said an estimated 5,000 absentee ballots won't be counted until next week, and election workers must collect an untold number of provisional ballots, verify that the voter on each is registered, and then count them.
At the county election headquarters in Catonsville yesterday, large zippered bags of ballots were piled in huge heaps, and workers rolled metal carts piled with voting computers into the building. Phones rang constantly.
In Pikesville, Yaffe took phone calls from supporters in a red frame house where stacks of "Rick Yaffe to the Rescue" signs leaned against a railing at the front door and a gift basket addressed to his campaign sat on a table near the stairs.
Yaffe, who owns Butler Medical Transport, trailed former delegate Dana M. Stein. The winner will join incumbent Dels. Jon S. Cardin and Dan K. Morhaim on the Democratic ticket for District 11 in the general election. The other incumbent, Del. Bobby A. Zirkin, won the Democratic nomination in the district's state senate race.
Yaffe was making his first run for office and campaigned largely on health care issues affecting seniors.
He said he spent Tuesday night with dozens of supporters at a restaurant in Pikesville, and that by the end of the night, even though the outcome remained unclear, he was ready to head home.
"You're so tired that you're numb to it and you just want to crash," he said. "Until I got home and I wanted to get out and campaign again."
In District 7, Nelson, an advocate for the homeless, held a slim lead over Stavropoulos, a car salesman. The winner will join Middle River activist Linda W. Hart and Glen Arm lawyer Jack R. Sturgill Jr. on the Democratic ticket in the general election.
In the state's attorney's race, Shellenberger led with 98 percent of precincts counted.
"I would love to see 100 percent of the precincts," said Shellenberger, a former county prosecutor who is now with the law firm of Peter G. Angelos. "But these obviously look like really good results to me."
Miles attributed his loss to what he characterized as nasty and misleading campaign materials distributed by Shellenberger.
On both the Democratic and GOP ballots for county Circuit Court judge, challenger Frank was about 3,000 votes shy.
"I'd almost have to take all of them," he said of the uncounted ballots. "It's pretty doubtful. So that being the case, I'm back to practicing law."
Sun reporter Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.