Miller comes up short on Democrat, GOP side

TYRONE – Ending hours of eager number-crunching among his supporters at the Bull Pen restaurant, Blair County judicial candidate Fred B. Miller arrived shortly after 10 p.m. to announce his defeat in a three-way race.

“We came up a little bit short,” the magisterial district judge for northern Blair County told some 50 friends and allies, many in blue-and-white “Elect Judge Fred Miller” T-shirts. “But I’m still going to be here in northern Blair County. I’m still going to be on call tomorrow at 6 a.m.”

Unofficial results show Miller finished second on both the Republican and Democratic tickets for county judge. Only 28 votes separated first and second on the Democrat ticket, where Dave Andrews came in first.

With the Democratic race for hours and the Republican primary leaning toward Deputy District Attorney Wade A. Kagarise, who won the Republican nomination, some of Miller’s supporters initially suspected their candidate wouldn’t make an appearance.

Throughout the day, they maintained cautious optimism, noting their efforts to get voters out and weighing the other candidates’ polling-place appearances.

“I think we had a good many supporters out. Our campaign was right in the middle of the road,” Miller’s campaign manager, and his wife Tracy’s grandfather, Fred Imler Sr., said hours before the final announcement.

Imler acknowledged that Miller could have garnered more votes on a ballot with a wider range of races.

As the night went on, those at the Bull Pen struggled to update vote tallies on their cellphones, and with television counts appearing incomplete, Miller’s supporters became nervous, then concerned.

Soon after 10 p.m., those paying closest attention to a nearby TV admitted that defeat seemed likely. Miller arrived soon after to confirm their fears.

“It was a tough race. There were three good candidates,” Miller said as his 4-year-old son, Grant, circled excitedly nearby.

Miller declined to discuss long-term plans, instead focusing on the immediate: his on-call service today and an upcoming family trip to a zoo and waterpark.

He spent the rest of his time at the Bull Pen accepting handshakes, hugs and congratulations for a well-fought campaign.

“The best man didn’t win,” a supporter told him with an embrace.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.