Linda Thompson plans to challenge freshman Congressman Scott Perry for Pennsylvania's 4th District, but political experts believe the former Harrisburg mayor's challenges may be more mathematical than anything issue-related.
For the most part, Thompson has laid low during the past two months. From December 23, 2013 to February 26, 2014, she was out of the public eye. Those two dates, however, were her signature achievements while in power.
Two days before Christmas, the mayor touted fiscal recovery success when the long-term plan was approved by Commonwealth Court. Last Wednesday, Thompson appeared at a news conference with Governor Tom Corbett to announce the end of the city's receivership.
On Saturday, Thompson told local Internet media outlet Roxbury News she was indeed collecting the 1,000 signatures needed to run for Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District. The deadline to file the petitions and the $150 fee is March 11.
The redrawn district map now covers the majority of Harrisburg minus wards in the historic Shipoke neighborhood. The 4th also covers the eastern part of Cumberland County, all of York and Adams counties.
Thompson finished third in the 2013 Harrisburg mayoral primary behind winner Eric Papenfuse and Controller Dan Miller. A reason why Jim Lee, political expert with Susquehanna Polling & Research, said he was stunned.
"I was surprised," he said. "I didn't think she was thinking about a run for Congress. It's not an easy undertaking."
In full disclosure, Lee said his company did polling work for Perry's 2012 campaign, but had no current contract with the Republican congressman.
Lee, said Thompson's challenge is more in the numbers than anything. According to the Elections Office, there are more than 209,000 registered Republicans and about 166,000 registered Democrats in the 4th District. Currently, Pennsylvania has only five Democrats in the House compared to 13 Republicans.
According to Lee, Thompson's voting base includes African-Americans, college-aged students, and young professionals. He said getting them out to vote in a non-presidential election year is especially tough. Historically, the district sees about 90,000 fewer voters head to the polls.
"That's just not a couple hundred votes, that's 90,000 votes fewer being cast in an average congressional district in a year like this where there isn't the same level of excitement. That's tends to benefit Republicans," he said.
One Democratic Party rep told abc27 that Thompson has not received an official endorsement. Without an affiliated party endorsement, campaign funding may also be a challenge. The rep said the party's initial pick is Harrisburg pastor Micah Sims. This rep said Sims will most likely run in another neighboring district.
Sims was unavailable for comment. Thompson also did not return repeated requests for comment or an interview.
Bob Philbin, Thompson's former Chief of Staff and spokesperson, said he would not be directly involved with Thompson's campaign but would help out anyway he could.
Thompson has not officially announced a platform or discussed issues, but said she would be willing to debate any opponent. Thompson has not publicly said where she is seeking campaign financing.
Lee said competition in politics is a great thing. Even though Thompson spearheaded the city's recovery, Lee said only serving one term as mayor could ultimately harm her status outside city limits. When running as a Democrat in a heavily Republican district, sometimes the numbers just don't add up.
"These are difficult things to overcome if you're running for congress in a district where the math just isn't on your side," Lee said.