It was just three months before Frederick's primary election when William Jefferson Holtzinger filed as a Republican for mayor. He had never run in a primary, or for any office, for that matter. He was not even living in the city, although he had grown up and spent most of his life just outside the city line.
Friends and family told him not to get his hopes up because a 12-year political veteran, Alderman Joseph W. Baldi, had already announced his candidacy at a restaurant swarming with GOP leaders. Holtzinger's campaign treasury held $2,135. Baldi piled up $33,496.
But Holtzinger, a lawyer and former city engineer, thought that if he rapped on enough people's doors, he might have a chance.
"A lot of people said, 'It's a nice thought, but you started too late. You don't have the name recognition,' " Holtzinger said. "And, you know, I understand that. It made sense. But I kept plugging along."
The naysayers were proved wrong as absentee ballots tallied yesterday confirmed that Holtzinger, a 41-year-old father of four, had upset Baldi in Tuesday's primary.
Final returns gave Holtzinger 1,077 votes, or 50 percent, compared with Baldi's 1,042, or 48.4 percent. A third Republican candidate, retired environmental scientist Stanley C. Mazaleski, got 35 votes.
"I'm disappointed, but we ran a campaign based on issues and not personalities," Baldi said. "And now I'm glad we're going to get behind Jeff."
The final tally increased former four-term mayor Ronald N. Young's margin over incumbent Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty in a bitterly contested Democratic primary. Young had 2,218 votes, or 56.8 percent; Dougherty received 1,690, or 43.2 percent. People in both parties said the results suggest that voters were eager to vote for anyone who might bring a more civil tone to City Hall.
But the fight might not be over. Since election night, Dougherty has refused to rule out running as an independent or at the head of another party's ticket.
"Of course, everybody should keep their options open and, yes, it's too soon to say," she said yesterday. She said it would not be hard to collect the necessary signatures before the Oct. 3 deadline for independent candidates. A recent city charter revision also would permit a third party to offer her a spot on its ticket.
The passions from the Democratic mayoral primary may spill into the general election in other ways, too.
Paul Gordon, a former Republican mayor, said people are already suggesting that some Democratic Dougherty followers might support Holtzinger. Gordon said some are still annoyed that Young violated party protocol to challenge an incumbent, and others remember his previous rule in the city and distrust him.
"I think the same thing that happened to Jennifer is going to happen to Ron: 'Anybody but . . .' " said Gordon, who defeated Young in 1989.
Holtzinger, who could not attend the recording of the absentee vote because of a prior commitment in Baltimore County Circuit Court, thanked his supporters. And he expressed the hope that Dougherty would not run in the general, saying her entry would distract from a discussion of issues. He predicted a hard-fought but civil campaign with Young for the general election in November.
"It'll probably be more boring than the Democratic primary," Holtzinger said. "But I hope that a lot of the boring things we talk about will be the things that cause taxes to escalate and things that have the biggest impact on the quality of life."