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Do non-Democrats have shot in Harrisburg mayoral race? - abc27 WHTM

Do non-Democrats have shot in Harrisburg mayoral race?

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

The Harrisburg mayor's race this fall will be at least a two-candidate race, and possibly between three if Dan Miller decides to accept his write-in nomination on the Republican side.

Harrisburg is a heavily Democratic town, so what chance do Miller and independent Nevin Mindlin have to defeat Democratic nominee Eric Papenfuse?

In most years, the winner of the Democratic primary would be a heavy favorite to win in November. What about this year?

Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling & Research said the situation is unusual because the winner of the Democratic primary did not win with a majority of the votes cast.

"You add up the Thompson and the Miller votes," said Lee. "More people voted against Papenfuse than for him."

Papenfuse would probably be the odds-on favorite to win as the Democratic nominee in a town with more than a four-to-one ratio of Democrat to Republican voters. But what if Dan Miller, a Democrat, decides to accept the Republican nomination he earned through write-in votes?

"If he runs with vigor and some kind of a credible campaign to his supporters from the primary, and urges them to cross over for him, then we're in another race," said Lee.

What about Mindlin's chances? He ran tough in 2009 as a Republican. Now he's an independent. Lee says Mindlin will have a tougher time than he did four years ago when he benefited from the anti-Thompson sentiment, especially if Miller decides not to run.

"I wonder if people feel like, 'Well, the change has already been made, we got Thompson out,'" said Lee. "So, you'll see Democrats fall back in line and vote for their nominee."

A possible advantage for Mindlin and Miller: people tend to vote more along party lines in even numbered years when there are bigger races at the top of the ticket.

Lee said there is more ticket splitting in odd-numbered years.

"So, that certainly plays to Dan Miller and Nevin Mindlin as having a better shot," he said.

Miller has said he is considering whether to accept the write-in nomination. He did not return a phone call Wednesday night.

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