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Brady badmouths city election figure

With scant evidence, the city's Democratic chairman takes a shot at Stephanie Singer for alleged ballot problems.

The city's Democratic Party chief, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, rarely says anything negative about his compadres in public life, at least to reporters. It's one of the principles that have kept him in power the last 25 years.

So we were surprised to hear this comment to The Inquirer's Washington correspondent, Jonathan Tamari, who asked Brady on Thursday about Election Day problems.

"We had minimum problems, other than the provisional ballots that our commissioner screwed up, but she can't screw it up no more," Brady said.

The clear reference was to City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, who was unceremoniously dumped as the city's election chief Wednesday by the two other commissioners, Republican Al Schmidt and Democrat Anthony Clark, who made themselves cochairmen.

Whether anybody "screwed up" provisional ballots is questionable. We haven't heard of a single polling place that ran out of provisional ballots on Election Day, despite a panicky court filing in mid-afternoon by Democratic lawyers seeking emergency-ballot deliveries to all 1,687 divisions in the city. The list was eventually pared down to 91 divisions, and when the ballots arrived late Tuesday afternoon, 26 polling places said they weren't needed and sent them back.

While the three elected commissioners oversee city elections, the nuts-and-bolts machinery is still run, capably, by the civil service staff assembled by Marge Tartaglione, who ran the office for 36 years (minus a four-year period when she was not the commissioners' chair) until Singer beat her in last year's Democratic primary. Whatever happened on Election Day, Brady's comment signals Singer may have a rocky road to reelection in 2015.