Philly mayor wins Dem nomination in Pa. primary

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — 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 beat Street by a roughly 3-to-1 margin 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.

“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 mayoral term, is now 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: Karen Brown, a former schoolteacher who up until recently was a Democrat, and John Featherman, a real estate agent. Philadelphia hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1952.

The race could get more interesting between now and November, though. 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 hoped to mobilize thousands of ex-offenders to vote for him; he had said that, if elected, he had planned to hire thousands of unemployed people as part of a town watch initiative for high-crime neighborhoods. Street was released from prison last year after serving 26 months for failing to pay income taxes.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.