Today is the deadline for candidates to file for the Nov. 5 special election for the next mayor of Scranton. The eventual winner will complete the second term of convicted felon Bill Courtright, which runs through 2021.

Times-Tribune politics reporter and Roderick Random writer Borys Krawczeniuk will have the details on who’s in and out in tomorrow’s newspaper, but it’s safe to say the race comes down to four serious candidates, each lugging baggage toward the finish line.

Attorney Chris Cullen, the endorsed Democrat, carries the weight of the Party Machine, which breaks both ways. The endorsement gives Cullen clout with the Democratic faithful, but drags his momentum with voters who don’t want another mayor endorsed by city party Chairman Bob Sheridan. Cullen is the apparent front-runner, but in a sack race, that doesn’t mean much.

Charlie Spano, the endorsed Republican, carries the weight of past campaign losses and the massive registration advantage of the Democrats. Spano’s only chance to win is a split of the vote between Cullen and independent candidates Kyle Donahue and Paige Cognetti.

Donahue sought the Democratic nomination, but the Machine spit him out. Donahue could make hay over that rejection, but the former city councilman and school director‘s credibility as an independent is undermined by his audition for the Democratic endorsement. Donahue benefits from a lingering anti-Cullen sentiment among the Democratic Old Guard, but so does Cognetti.

Cognetti, a lifelong Democrat, wisely sidestepped the city and county committees and chose to register as an independent. The Machine was never going to get behind “Harvard Barbie,” who carries the weight of being an outsider who quit a failing school board to take a job with the state auditor general. Cognetti told me she left the board over frustration of leading a four-member minority that couldn’t get much done. As CEO of Scranton, she would have the power to change the game.

Apart from convicted felon Bob Bolus, I mean no disrespect to the others who entered the race. Running for office is the ultimate expression of civic responsibility, and I wish them well. Right now, the aforementioned four seem like the serious contenders, and time is short.

The deadline for voting is Nov. 5.