Mayor Nutter wins Dem nomination in Pa. primary

Mayor Michael Nutter (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

May 17, 2011 9:08:08 PM PDT
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter brushed aside a long-shot Democratic primary challenge Tuesday from former state legislator and hot dog vendor T. Milton Street, the older brother of Nutter's predecessor and longtime political rival.

Nutter overwhelmingly beat Street in an election marked by low turnout amid rainy weather and a lack of high-profile races. Street, who recently completed a federal sentence for failing to file taxes, was considered a long-shot candidate for the office once held by his brother, two-term Mayor John F. Street.

With nearly 80 percent of precincts reporting, Nutter had more than 75 percent of the votes cast, or 93,857 votes. Street garnered about 29,225, or about 24 percent.

"I'm humbled," Nutter said in an interview with The Associated Press. "The voters made their decision tonight. I'm very pleased with their decision."

The 53-year-old Nutter, a former city councilman seeking a second term as mayor, is expected to be the heavy favorite in the November general election. Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of more than 6-1 in Philadelphia.

Two lesser-known Republicans are competing in an extremely close Republican primary. With nearly 80 percent of the precincts reporting, Karen Brown, a former schoolteacher who up until recently was a Democrat, had 7,622 votes, or a little more than 50 percent of the ballots cast. John Featherman, a real estate agent, had 6,939 votes, or about 49 percent. Philadelphia hasn't had a Republican mayor since 1952.

The mayor's race could get more interesting between now and November. John F. Street recently switched his registration to independent and may be considering a run for a third term in November. He has not stated publicly if he intends to run.

Nutter was elected in 2007 after running a campaign that criticized John Street for not doing enough to stop violent crime or prevent pay-to-play corruption. This time around, Nutter pointed out that homicides were down 22 percent last year compared to 2007 and that violent crime was down 13 percent over that period, despite the fact that the economic crisis has prevented the city from adding the hundreds of police officers he had hoped to hire. He also touted successes in the implementation of single-stream recycling, a new 311 information call center and improvements in police accountability under his police commissioner, Charles Ramsey.

Milton Street had garnered the support of city firefighters and a blue-collar municipal union, both of which are frustrated with Nutter.

As part of his platform, Street, who hoped to mobilize thousands of ex-offenders to vote for him, had planned to hire thousands of unemployed people as part of a town watch initiative. Street was released from prison last year after serving 26 months for failing to pay income taxes.