The political shell game continues in the Harrisburg mayor's race. Two candidates are in danger of being ousted. and another is back in after saying he was out just a few days ago.
"Hollywood can't make this stuff up!" said one election worker.
The latest twist in the race to become the next mayor of Harrisburg changed with $25. Just after 3 p.m. on Friday, Dan Miller walked into the Dauphin County Administration Building to pay the fee needed to accept the Republican nomination.
Why the change? Miller called what happened Thursday night a "game changer."
Petitions were filed against independent candidates Nevin Mindlin and Nate Curtis. Petitions against Mindlin stated he did not properly fill out the nomination form by putting down the required three-to-five names of those who would replace him if he were unable to run.
A challenge filed against Curtis stated that his residency and financial requirements were inaccurate and false. The petition alleges that Curtis did not live within the Harrisburg city limits one year prior to the November election as required under state law.
His campaign has told abc27 News that Curtis was a "native of Harrisburg" and that he returned home after serving in the military overseas. Records state he moved into a Harrisburg city address in April of this year.
According to the petition, it was also alleged that Curtis failed to write down that he owed $6,500 to a creditor and that the military was his only source of income.
Curtis said in a statement Friday that he has prepared his case and is willing to defend his eligibility as a candidate for mayor as necessary.
The statement also pointed the finger at Democratic nominee Eric Papenfuse and his campaign.
"I think it has become quite obvious to the voters of Harrisburg at this point that Eric Papenfuse considers himself to be the pre-ordained mayoral candidate," Curtis said, adding that the Papenfuse campaign is "grasping at straws" to win the election.
Roxbury News also showed abc27 a video of Curtis accepting his court notice inside the Midtown Scholar bookstore - owned by Papenfuse - as a protest.
As for Mindlin, he told abc27 that he will "fight vigorously" to stay on the ballot. Mindlin also said he believed someone like Papenfuse is behind filing the petitions.
"If you're in politics ... and you understand how this game works. It's definitely the Papenfuse campaign," he said.
Miller said once he learned all this he began to get phone calls and emails. He read one mail from a city resident who urged Miller to get back in the race so Papenfuse would not run unopposed.
The odd part to many is that on Monday, Miller held a news conference to announce he would not seek the Republican nomination he won through write-in votes during the May primary, when he lost the Democratic nomination to Papenfuse.
Miller said he was outspent by a large margin in the primary and that he would not have enough money to compete against Papenfuse again.
So, why run if the possibility presents itself to run only against Papenfuse?
"That doesn't change the money argument," Miller said. "But, what it does do is it forwards democracy. We can have a discussion, we can have a debate. I think it's a different race if it's just going to be the two of us."
Mindlin and Curtis will have hearings inside a Dauphin County courtroom Monday morning. A judge will decide in each case whether or not to keep them on the ballot.
Miller said he had legal advice that there's a "good chance" Mindlin and Curtis would be knocked off the ballot due to incomplete paperwork.
He would not what his plans are if one or both candidates remain on the ballot. He said he would have to revaluate his position after Monday, which is the last day to accept the Republican nomination.
One thing is for sure: Miller was visibly rejuvenated.
"I'm really pumped for it," he said. "I think that we can win and I think it's important that we have a race with competing candidates."