MAYORAL CANDIDATE

Bob Brady

, chairman of the city Democratic Party, has told ward leaders that if some committeemen and women can't deliver votes for him, then they should deliver for

Michael Nutter

.

Nutter is the front-runner in Tuesday's mayoral primary.

Brady is still focused on winning, party insiders say, but he wants to make sure rival Tom Knox loses.

Nutter led Knox by 10 points with Brady running fourth among five major candidates this week in the Daily News/Keystone Poll.

Knox, with labor leader and Brady nemesis John Dougherty as an ally, is the candidate most likely to try to oust Brady as party chairman.

In Monday night's debate, Knox told Brady, "I can kick butt, and yours will be the first to go."

Nutter, on the other hand, is a longtime ward leader used to working with Brady. Rule No. 1 in politics is survival.

"We can live with [Nutter]. He's smart, he understands the system and he always asks the right questions," said one ward leader who is backing Brady. "God forbid, if it's not Bobby, he can live with Michael Nutter."

This ward leader said, "If my committee people have trouble for some reason [with voters] who don't like Bob, I'm telling them, 'Give me Nutter!' "

Said another Brady-loyal ward leader: "A [party worker] grabbed me and said, 'It's OK.' I said, what do you mean, 'It's OK'? He said, 'If you have to do some Nutter, it's OK with Bobby.' "

The idea, this ward leader said, is that if you stop Knox, Brady lives to fight another day even if Nutter wins.

West Philadelphia ward leader Ralph Wynder said that Brady had given him the OK to endorse Nutter, "although he is still asking for whatever votes he can get. He hasn't given the go-ahead to send his votes another way."

Wynder is a longtime ally of Nutter, but said Brady has helped bring jobs to his ward, so he was torn.

"But Bob showed me the respect to let me make the decision I wanted to," Wynder said.

This week, a long-stalled endorsement logjam in Chestnut Hill's 9th ward broke when the ward went with Nutter.

Brady had nothing to do with that, said ward leader John O'Connell, who'd been holding out for a Brady endorsement.

"The committee people supporting Nutter grew to the extent that we had to make an endorsement," O'Connell said.

He said that he would keep fighting for Brady votes but that "our main priority is defeating Knox."

Brady did not return a call for comment.

Street sense: Follow the water

Politics long ago graduated from campaign buttons and bumper stickers. Now we have cap snafflers, fans, key chains, sponges, emery boards and Christmas ornaments with the candidate's name on them.

Our favorite this year is the T. Milton Street water bottle.

The much beleaguered, indicted, over-taxed mayoral brother is running for City Council at large. The water bottles are the work of Albert Littlepage, a candidate who has put together a field organization for unendorsed candidates like himself and Street.

The bottles will be distributed in key neighborhoods on Election Day.

"I think it's a splendid idea," Street said. "You can't drink the water without seeing my lever number on the bottle. I think it's a winner."

He says he's also supporting his nephew, Sharif Street, another Council-at-large candidate.

We suggested a slogan: "Two Streets are better than one."

"I don't know," Milton said, "one of them might be full of potholes."

Sharif: Better than water

Milton might have the water, but Sharif Street has the Sistahs.

About 75 supporters wearing specially designed "Sistahs for Street" T-shirts stood in the 2200 block of North Broad Street earlier this week, holding signs and urging motorists to honk their horns in support.

Hmmm, Sistahs or water bottles? We think the Sistahs will get more attention on Election Day.

Milton's ward support

At least one ward leader has endorsed Milton. A Republican ward leader.

J. Matthew Wolfe, leader of the 27th ward in University City, sent out a newsletter asking Republicans to get their Democratic friends to bullet-ballot Milton Street.

"Milton's making it on the ballot gives us the best chance we have for getting more than two Republicans elected at large," Wolfe wrote.

There are seven at-large Council seats with two reserved for the minority party. The Republicans have never been able to get more votes than the weakest of the five Democrats.

"If Sanjaya [from "American Idol"] can get votes from people frustrated with that process, maybe Milton can get some votes," Wolfe said.

Lucky omen for Erdos?

Common Pleas Judge candidate Mike Erdos and wife Diana welcomed baby Jackson Henry Erdos into the primary election race at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Jackson weighed in at eight pounds, nine ounces, and 21 inches tall. Dad's ballot number? 21. Sounds like a lucky hand.

Keel: Banned by Nutter

Last week, we told you how Tommy the Loan Shark, the shark-costumed guy who stalks Tom Knox as a reminder of his payday-lending history, disappeared after Frank Keel, the large and loud PR voice of Electricians Local 98, invaded the shark's news conference.

This week, we tell you that the Nutter campaign banned Keel from their rally last night.

Keel said he walked into the rally at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, signed his name and stood in the back when a well-dressed man approached him.

"He said, 'Frank, I hate to ask, but they've asked me to tell you that this is a private event and they want you to leave,' " Keel said.

Keel left quietly, saying he didn't want to cause trouble.

"The last time I crashed another campaign's press conference, a shark died," he said. *

Staff writers Gar Joseph and Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.