State Senate candidate Linda Small should buy a ticket for Saturday's Powerball drawing.

The way her luck is going, by Sunday she'll probably be set for life.

This is not to suggest the Democrat isn't qualified or could only win the 28th state Senate seat if the stars aligned in her favor.

Normally, any candidate without an R after his or her name would face an uphill race in the solidly Republican district.

But the March 18 election isn't normal.

It's special.

First, it was called to fill the position left vacant by Mike Waugh's resignation, meaning there's no high-profile, well-funded incumbent to unseat.

Second, the lieutenant governor made the controversial decision to schedule the special election just two months before the primary, which will decide the Republican and Democratic nominees for a full four-year term in the 28th.

That means the winner in March will have the power of incumbency, however so brief, heading into the primary.

Both Small and her Republican challenger in the special election, Jacobus state Rep. Ron Miller, are seeking their parties' nominations in May. Miller faces two challengers; Small will be the only name on the Democratic ballot.

Assuming she wins in May, Small would need all the help she can get to beat a Republican on his home turf.


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But what are the odds she actually might be "state Sen. Linda Small" heading into the general election?

Turns out, better than most would have predicted just a month or so ago.

Small can thank an insurgent write-in campaign for the special election by anti-establishment tea party Republican Scott Wagner.

The owner of Penn Waste claims state and local Republican leaders conspired to deny him a victory in the May 20 primary. Wagner accused politicians of striking a "backroom deal" to have Waugh resign in time for a special election for which they had hand-picked Miller as their nominee.

Now, instead of focusing on Small, Miller is spending his time and funds fending off attack ads by Wagner, who says he has already spent "several hundred thousand dollars" of his own money on his campaign.

The Republican family feud could split the GOP vote, meaning a Small victory in March isn't as far-fetched as it once seemed.

If the losing side of that feud decides to sit out the general election – or, perhaps, even throw support behind the Democrat – we could have a major upset on our hands.

And the local Republican party would have only its own to blame.

Come to think of it, Small might want to spring for the Power Play option on that lottery ticket.