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Watchdog fight

In a very sleep election year, the controller's race is one messy battle.

Did you know we are having a primary Tuesday?

We are! And since Philadelphia Democrats have a mere 6-to-1 registration, the primary is pretty much the whole ball game. Ignore the polls May 21, and you're pretty much stuck with whatever the few awake voters give you.

In a very informal poll, we asked some of those informed voters their best guesses on voter turnout.

Around 10 percent, said a few.

Maybe 11 or 12 percent, guessed on optimist.

With an uncontested District Attorney's race — Seth Williams strolls into a second term, much as Mayor Nutter did — it's entirely possible we may be looking at single digits.

The controller's race, however, has hardly been a sleepy affair. The fight for being the city's top watchdog has been a bitter fight, with the candidates nipping at each other's heels.

If you haven't please read Bob Warner's delicious report on the controller's race.

Alan Butkovitz, a ward leader who has most of the Democratic powerbrokers' support, is seeking a third term.

Brett Mandel bills himself as the "progressive," a self-described "budget bulldog" challenging the machine.

Scare tactics have been employed. Every mailing trying to induce fear in an apathetic electorate

Butkovitz blames Mandel for raised property taxes. Mandel blames Butkovitz for the school mess.

Third candidate and longshot Anthony "Tony" Zecca has wisely brought up a private early 2012 meeting between Butkovitz and Mandel, first reported in the Philadelphia News, where Mandel suggests Butkovitz drop the relection campaign and focus on his 2015 bid for mayor. In exchange, Mandel would support Butkovitz.

Mandel's other big idea was that Butkovitz appoint him as one of his deputies, so he could step into the top job when the controller ran for mayor.

Uh, no.

Butkovitz summarily rejected both ideas.

And we wonder why the two guys loathe each other.

As Warner's story notes, in a televised debate last week, Zecca dropped the best line of his campaign: "I think the solution is, we need to elect a controller who was not in that meeting."

Why should we expect anything in Philadelphia politics to change?

-- Karen Heller