THERE ARE a few bones left from last week's primary election, so let's gnaw on 'em.

The election day surprise was labor leader John Dougherty's loss in the Democratic primary battle to replace outgoing state Sen. Vince Fumo. The winner, lawyer Larry Farnese, had been trailing in even his own polls. Unmentioned was who got Farnese to enter the Senate race.

The answer, say Farnese insiders - Johnny Doc himself! How?

Robert Ludlum would've called it "The Gormley Gambit."

It was Farnese's original plan to run against state House Rep. Babette Josephs, whom he almost beat two years ago.

Another candidate was already in the race, Peggy Banaszek, but she seemed more likely to draw votes from Josephs. But then came The Gormley Gambit.

Bobby Gormley Jr., 34, is the leader of the Grays Ferry Community Council. He is also a part-time official of Dougherty's Local 98 of the electricians' union. Gormley wanted to run against Josephs, too. The union helped him with nominating petitions. Then came calls from the Doc camp: Maybe the petitions would never be filed. Especially if Farnese endorsed Doc in the Senate race.

Fumo hadn't dropped out yet. Farnese felt that he couldn't endorse Doc. But Farnese also felt that he couldn't beat Josephs if Gormley was in the race since Gormley's strength in Grays Ferry undercut him. Faced with an endorsement he couldn't make or a race he couldn't win, Farnese jumped out of the House contest and into the Senate contest - and wound up a long-shot winner when Fumo quit and threw his support to Farnese in a Stop Doc effort.

The Doc squad calls that scenario nonsense. Gormley was in the race on his own, not as part of any leverage against Farnese.

Farnese's entry against Josephs was simply a cover for what really happened, they say: A deal with Fumo for Farnese to get into the Senate race at the last minute with Fumo getting out.

"Their initial game plan was to do a switch at the end [Farnese for Fumo], and then focus all of their resources to knock off [state Rep. Bill] Keller," says this Dougherty insider. Fumocrat Christian DiCicco ultimately fell short in his bid to dump Keller.

Can Farnese end the feud?

Now that he's won, Farnese is in the awkward position of trying to distance himself from Fumo - to whom he owes his victory - so that he can end the war with Dougherty.

If he can't master that manuever, he's likely to be under seige from Doc and his allies as they look ahead to a re-run in 2010.

Dougherty's loss can be largely attributed to the cloud put over him by his pal Donald "Gus" Dougherty, who pleaded guilty to 98 counts in a federal corruption probe. (And another revelation in the case is breaking, as you can see in a story on Page 7.)

Gus Doc is to stand trial on two other counts later this month, and both involve his dealings with Johnny Doc. One way or another, that cloud should be gone by 2010. But will Johnny Doc run again?

"I don't know," he said. "Ed Rendell lost elections, Bobby Casey lost elections [before they won]. It was humbling to a degree, but I worked hard at it and had fun. I listen better today, I speak slower and I think it's made me a better public servant. I intend to help as many people as I can."

And to that end, he said he's keeping his election campaign headquarters at Broad and Passyunk open for at least another month "so we can help people out, make sure all the questions people asked us get answered." Sounds runnerish to us.

How did Obama lose Montco?

Any equation to get a statewide win for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama in the presidential primary included a fat winning margin in Montgomery County. That didn't happen. In fact, Obama lost the county outright to U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Some initial punditry pointed to Clinton's 62 percent winning percentage among Jewish voters statewide in the exit polls.

But two of the county's state reps, Obama supporter Josh Shapiro and Clinton supporter Mike Gerber, saw no evidence of Jewish voters being the key swing group in Montco.

"He won Lower Merion, Abington, Cheltenham, Jenkintown [which have large Jewish populations]," Shapiro said. "I do not think it was a key factor in him losing here."

"From my perspective, voting patterns weren't determined by religious orientation," said Gerber. "If you're looking for a demographic marker it would be the economics of the area, rather than the religion."

Clinton won the middle and lower-middle class areas and Obama the higher-end neighborhoods,Gerber said, a trend that was statewide.

Another key factor, Shapiro noted, was the numerous visits and high visibility of Clinton, husband Bill and daughter Chelsea. Finally, Gerber said, you can't underestimate the power of Gov. Rendell's support.

"Montgomery County is Rendell country," he said. "When Rendell was mayor he made it socially acceptable to be a Democrat in the suburbs." And, now, a Hillaryite too.

Snyder scores upsets

Political ad man Ken Snyder is on something of a roll this year. Before doing the media for Farnese's upset win here, he scored an upset win in Chicago. Snyder did the TV ads for Anita Alvarez, who came out of nowhere to beat five men for the Democratic nomination for state's attorney, Chicago's top prosecutor.

She'll be the first woman and first Hispanic ever to hold the office. *

Staff writers Gar Joseph and Dave Davies contributed to this report.

Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Contact Gar Joseph at, call 215-854-5895, or fax 215-854-5910.