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Rock-Fleagle race likely to bring out Pa. voters today

November 07, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Republicans, Democrats and independents in the 90th House District will choose today between a pair of Republicans to represent them in the General Assembly for the next two years.

The race between Patrick E. Fleagle and Todd A. Rock likely will be the most competitive and closely watched local one in Franklin County. It might also provide dj vu for Republican voters, who had Fleagle and Rock on ballots in their May primary.

Fleagle, a nine-term incumbent, lost the GOP primary to Rock by 111 votes, but he received more Democratic write-in votes to ultimately become the Democrats' nominee.

Republicans hold a 2-to-1 edge in registered voters in Franklin County with 48,608 members of the GOP compared to 24,076 Democrats. In the 90th District, the southern portion of the county, there are 24,381 Republicans to 10,941 Democrats.

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The county Democratic committee recused itself from supporting Fleagle, saying its bylaws prevent it from supporting a registered Republican.

Because of that, the Democrats really haven't put out feelers to gauge voter preference, committee member Clint Barkdoll said.

"It's very difficult to read," Barkdoll said. "Regardless of how it splits, I think it will boost turnout."

The more than 4,800 people registered as independents or with smaller parties, who could not vote in the primary, will also figure into the final outcome.

In the 89th District, freshman Republican incumbent Rob Kauffman is facing Democratic nominee Andrew Alosi in a district that includes portions of Franklin and Cumberland counties. Registration figures from the counties show that Republicans outnumber Democrats within the district, 21,432 to 12,355, with about 5,000 people registered independents or with smaller parties.

"The 90th is going to draw a crowd, and the St. Thomas referendum is going to draw a crowd," said Jean Byers, Franklin County's deputy chief clerk. In St. Thomas Township, voters will decide whether to establish a local government study commission to examine home-rule options and which seven of the 11 candidates on the ballot will serve on it.

Byers said she expects voter turnout will be 40 percent to 45 percent. Turnout in the last comparable midterm election, in 2002, was 48 percent, according to county Election Board records.

Voters statewide also will be asked to approve a referendum authorizing the state to take on debt of as much as $20 million for the payment of compensation to veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91.

Polls area open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Staff writer Jennifer Fitch contributed to this story.

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