Political analyst sizes up Harrisburg mayoral race

As the mercury begins to rise in Harrisburg, so does the cream in the mayoral crop. However, this week the field has grown from two to possibly four.

Cheers rocked the Midtown Scholar as Eric Papenfuse walked in fresh from his May primary victory. Less than two months later, his landslide win has put the Democratic nominee on an island with three others.

Nate Curtis, a virtual unknown in the city, threw his hat in the ring this week and will be on the November ballot under the “Curtis for Mayor” party.

Democratic primary candidate Dan Miller told abc27 News this week he would most likely run on the Republican ticket after receiving the necessary write-in votes. Miller has not formally accepted the Republican bid and has until August 12 to do so.

Then, there's the man who most thought would be Papenfuse's only competition, Nevin Mindlin. The independent candidate participated in most public debate forums during the primary campaign and is settled to duke it out once again.

Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling and Research, explained there is one clear front runner, only because of Harrisburg's political makeup.

“With everything we know here in the city in terms of political registration, having the Democratic nomination clearly gives him the advantage,” Lee said of Papenfuse.

Lee noted the true wildcard is Curtis.

“If you're Papenfuse, you don't even acknowledge there's a fourth person in the race,” he said.

Curtis, a 25 year-old Air Force veteran, has much to prove according to Lee.

“Curtis has more questions than answers as a candidate,” he said.

Lee explained Curtis's military background doesn't always mean more votes when it comes to a local political race.

“Voters tend to rank business experience and management experience as highest attributes in a candidate that's running for a CEO type of position,” he said.

If anything, Lee believes to take votes away from Papenfuse, Curtis could combine political efforts with Miller and Mindlin.

He added that past elections have showed that candidates who have the momentum should stay out of the mud.

“[Papenfuse should] keep the campaign positive and wait to see who strikes first,” Lee said.

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