There are thirteen thousand five hundred and ninety two (13,592) registered REPUBLICAN voters in Allentown. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, compared to the forty five thousand seven hundred and fifty three (45,753) registered Democrats also in Allentown.
But what we have coming up here on May 16th is a primary. A primary that so far has seven announced Democrat candidates and three Republicans. Today it is time to look at the Republican numbers. When I look at the turnout numbers for the 57 Allentown precincts since 2001, there is one very clear pattern, and that pattern is that despite being outnumbered by approximately 3.5 to 1, The registered Republicans do participate in the process. I believe that it is mostly because they (and their county party leaders) realize their importance in helping elect Republican candidates countywide.
You would think that because Republican candidates theoretically don't have a chance in Allentown, that Republican voters might be as complacent as well as apathetic as the Democrats in Allentown, but they are not. While Democratic Turnout in Municipal primaries has struggled to break 10% in most districts, Republican turnout has in many precincts surpassed 25% and in one case, 30%.
(We will touch on the General election in a future post, where R's out perform D's in Lehigh County in municipal elections by at least 27% to 18%, and the 20+% of Independents that participate go for R candidates by an 85% to 15% margin)
So this year we have what I see as a perfect storm that could very well elect the first Republican Mayor in Allentown since 1997. This storm is reliant on incumbent Ed Pawlowski winning a plurality over the six other candidates and becoming the Democratic nominee. For Republicans, this will be a Christmas gift of unfathomable proportions. This will turn off many of the few Democrats that do turn out in Allentown on Municipal election years, and help the Republicans maintain their majority at County Government levels. It will also, in my opinion, very likely give Allentown a Republican mayor, and possibly a Republican City Council member or two.
If you don't believe it possible, I will point out to you that Republican Congressman Charlie Dent won Lehigh County by over 17,000 votes, despite the Democrats having a registration edge of over 35,000 voters. Ninety percent of that supposed edge (32,000) exists in Allentown. So you put a damaged incumbent who is under Federal Investigation as the Democratic nominee, and have him face a young energetic and charismatic Republican, and you have got yourself a horse race.
Which brings me to handicapping the three Republican candidates. First in was Democrat turned Republican Nat Hyman, a property developer in Allentown Center City who, for the most part, is on the outside of the NIZ looking in. The last time R's ran a converted D against the current mayor that did not end well at all. Second in was Christopher Pez, an area native, and an Allentown Central Catholic grad who likely appeals to the local R's for being a guy who ran his own company and knows what small business owners have to endure on a daily basis. Third, is Allentown Police Officer Luiz Garcia. Garcia is well spoken and articulates his platform and passion for the City very well. All things being equal, when I use my formula to score the three candidates, I think the Republican Primary has a turnout in Allentown of 22 to 25% of the registered R's. Which means 3200 to 3500 votes will be cast.
My vote breakdown, based using census figures on median income, past voter activity and preferences, plus a couple of other variables I came up with over the past decade, breaks it down this way:
Pez 1440 to 1536 (45%)
Garcia 1120 to 1216 (35%)
Hyman 640 to 700 (20%)
I believe this race is truly a toss up between Garcia and Pez. And to be honest, I feel there is a bias against Hispanics in the Republican base. Trump didn't win without their votes, but I also believe that it can be overcome. It will be tough for Garcia, but I think it possible.
I also think that either Pez or Garcia could defeat Pawlowski. Hyman has no shot on that regard, because he played ball with the mayor many times, and Whoever the Dem nominee is, even if not Pawlowski, would toss it in his face regularly.
I ran this data with the variable that Pawlowski does not get indicted BEFORE the Primary day. If that happens, Pawlowski's safety gap of votes would shrink to a point where he likely would still get 15% of the Dem vote, but give one of his challengers a chance to get by him.
We have a long way to go, more than two months are left. The ride is going to be fun!