While Philadelphia Democrats focus on the races in Tuesday's primary, Delaware County voters will be wading through a crowded field of candidates for countywide offices.

Twelve candidates - none of them incumbents - are vying for three open seats on the five-member county council. Seven candidates are seeking two Common Pleas judgeships.

Third-party and independent voters cannot participate in the nomination process, but can vote on a controversial tax referendum. The Act 1 ballot question asks residents if they want to offset a portion of their school property-taxes with a new or increased income tax.

The endorsed Republican candidates have been campaigning particularly hard this year, after Democrats dealt a blow in November to the county GOP, unseating longtime incumbents U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon and state Rep. Tom Gannon.

Weldon is now working in the defense industry, while Gannon is running as an unendorsed candidate for county judge.

Perhaps the hottest race is for the Republican nomination for Common Pleas Court. Three Republicans are challenging the party-backed candidates, county Councilwoman Mary Alice Brennan and Magisterial District Judge Greg Mallon. Democrat Frank Daly is hoping to secure both parties' nominations by capitalizing on the Republican infighting.

Delaware County voters are registered 53 percent Republican, 35 percent Democratic and 11 percent independent or third party. Democrats continue to chip away at the Republican voter base. The GOP lost about 1,900 voters since November; the Democrats gained about 1,200. *