With the downfall of three City Council Democrats in Tuesday's primary, the leadership of City Council in January 2008 remains seriously in doubt.
Both City Council President Anna Verna and Jannie Blackwell, the Council majority leader who covets the gavel in Council's ornate chambers, have a credible shot at the presidency.
And if they can't muster a nine-vote majority, there's a possibility that an entirely new power structure could emerge to work with the next mayor.
But as a result of Tuesday's voting, it can be argued that Blackwell made slight inroads into Verna's power base.
That's because two Verna supporters, Councilwoman Carol Ann Campbell and Councilman Daniel Savage, went down to defeat in hotly contested district primaries. They won't be voting for president come January.
On the Blackwell side, City Councilman Juan Ramos, a first-termer, was far out of the running for one of the five at-large nominations.
Looking at the newly nominated Democrats, who are likely to breeze to election in November, Curtis J. Jones Jr. has already said he would support a Blackwell presidency.
That leaves William Green IV, the fourth-place finisher in the Democratic at-large race, and Maria Quinones Sanchez, who handily defeated Savage.
Green said he will discuss the presidency with the incoming mayor after the November general election before deciding where to cast his support. But there is evidence of a tilt toward Blackwell.
Green, the son of the former mayor, credited electricians union boss John Dougherty with critical Election Day help in his stunning win. Dougherty and Blackwell are now politically close, therefore, the belief on the Verna side is that Green could turn out to be a Blackwell vote. Green says he hasn't talked presidency with Blackwell or Dougherty.
Quinones Sanchez, who worked on Council staff years ago, makes no secret of her long-standing friendship with Blackwell. But she says she's made no choice.
"I don't want to be aligned with a faction against someone or for someone else," she said. "I want to be an independent voice and work hard for my district."
Based on past alliances and critical votes, Verna and Blackwell may start with six votes out of a needed nine.
The Verna team would be Frank DiCicco, James Kenney, Joan Krajewski, Marian Tasco, Bill Greenlee and Verna.
The Blackwell team would have Wilson Goode, Donna Miller, Blondell Reynolds Brown, Darrell Clarke, Curtis Jones and Blackwell.
Both sides will try to woo Green and Quinones Sanchez, but even if Blackwell were to prevail, it would leave her with just eight votes.
In the proverbial catbird seat are the three Republicans, Brian O'Neill, Jack Kelly and Frank Rizzo. For now, they are with Verna.
Michael Meehan, the Republican Party's leader, said the Republicans usually cast their votes for president as a block.
"This is all about getting nine votes," he said. "We don't know the fallout from yesterday. It'll take some time for all of this to shake out and I think the next mayor is going to have some input on this."
City Councilman James Kenney, a key Verna supporter, aggressively sought to make the next Council president an issue in the primary.
"If we are going to work as a team and give Mayor Nutter's agenda a fair hearing and support, then you're going in the opposite direction by replacing Council President Verna with Jannie Blackwell," he said.
Republican Frank Rizzo said he thinks Verna will ultimately be safe. "I think there would have been an issue had Tom Knox won," he said.
He predicted that Michael Nutter, the Democratic mayoral nominee, will steer clear of the Council factionalism, but it's no secret that Nutter battled with Blackwell over tax cuts, ethics reform and budgets while on Council.
Tasco, who twice considered seeking the presidency in the last 15 years, said she was not lining up support for a run. "Anna Verna has been fair with Council members and I'm not prepared to throw her out," she said. *