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With petitions filed, Dougherty to take on Fumo in April primary

Two longtime foes with deep roots in South Philadelphia - state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo and union leader John J. Dougherty - are edging closer to a confrontation at the polls.

Two longtime foes with deep roots in South Philadelphia - state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo and union leader John J. Dougherty - are edging closer to a confrontation at the polls.

Both filed thousands of signatures with state election officials yesterday to seek the Democratic Senate nomination in the April 22 primary.

But it apparently won't be a head-to-head match-up. As expected, community activist Anne Dicker and attorney Lawrence M. Farnese Jr. also filed petitions to join the Senate race.

A potential fifth candidate, former city controller Joseph Vignola, said he'd decided not to run in the primary, but will seek a spot on the November ballot, running as an independent.

"With Johnny Doc filing, Vince can't drop out," Vignola said. "That is the ultimate feud. Dropping out would mean the other guy wins, and neither would let that happen."

The potential candidates have a two-week withdrawal period, through Feb. 27, to reconsider and drop out of the race.

Dicker said she's in the race to stay. Farnese plans to choose between the Senate campaign and a bid to unseat state Rep. Babette Josephs.

"We're not running two races - I can't put myself through that," said Renee Gilinger, Farnese's campaign manager. "We'll sit down later this week and really figure out which makes the most sense."

Fumo, a 30-year veteran, is considered vulnerable because of his scheduled trial in September on federal corruption charges. He is the only incumbent senator from Philadelphia to face primary opposition.

The deadline for candidates to submit nominating petitions was 5 p.m. yesterday, but because of heavy snow in central Pennsylvania, Gov. Rendell extended the filing period to noon tomorrow.

At least 10 members of the city's state House delegation face primary challenges.

Former State House Speaker John Perzel of Northeast Philadelphia, deposed last year after Democrats took control of the House, is opposed by John P. McDermott for the Republican nomination.

Two Democrats are vying to face Perzel or McDermott in the fall - Richard D. Costello, former Fraternal Order of Police president, and Tim Kearney, a former City Council aide and director of the Action Alliance of Senior Citizens.

Farnese, Josephs and two other Democrats - Peggy Banaszek and Robert J. Gormley Jr. - filed to run in Josephs' district, which includes chunks of Center City and South Philadelphia. Banaszek, 35, is a former project manager working for health-insurance companies. Gormley, 34, works for Dougherty's union, Local 98 of the International Brotherhoood of Electrical Workers.

Reps. Rosita Youngblood and Angel Cruz - two Democrats who bucked the party leadership a year ago to support Perzel for House Speaker - also found themselves in primary contests.

Byron Davis, 42, a history teacher at Germantown Friends School, and Arthur W. Barlow, 53, filed petitions to oppose Youngblood, 61, in her Northwest Philadelphia district.

Jonathan Ramos put himself into the race against Cruz, 42, who is seeking a fifth two-year term.

Christian DiCicco, 35, an attorney and the son of Councilman Frank DiCicco, filed petitions to oppose state Rep. William Keller in South Philadelphia. DiCicco is a Fumo ally, while Keller has been close to Dougherty.

In another South Philadelphia primary race, incumbent Rep. Harold James is opposed by Kenyatta Johnson, 34, a former staff member for state Sen. Anthony Williams, and Dyheim T. Watson, 28.

Rep. Tony J. Payton Jr., who narrowly won two years ago against a write-in campaign led by several ward leaders, faces opposition this year from Guy D. Lewis, 53, a nurse at Temple University Hospital.

Lewis Thomas III, 30, a former schoolteacher, is taking on state Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, a 20-year veteran.

In West Philadelphia, Vanessa L. Brown filed papers to take on Rep. Thomas W. Blackwell IV, seeking his third term.

State Rep. Jewell Williams of North Philadelphia faces a challenge from Leodus Jones, 64, a retired construction worker in the Laborers Union.

In statewide races, the only primary contest is among four Democrats running for state treasurer: John Cordisco, a lawyer and Bucks County Democratic chairman; Rob McCord, a Montgomery County businessman who chairs the Eastern Technology Council, a trade association for high-tech businesses; state Rep. Jennifer L. Mann, of Allentown; and Dennis Morrison-Wesley, of Harrisburg. *

Daily News columnist John Baer contributed to this report.