SPRING always brings to Clout a spirit of renewal, of new opportunities - maybe even a chance of cross-political-pollination.

At least that's what we were thinking when we heard that Tom Knox, who carried the strong support of the electricians union in the 2007 Democratic primary for mayor, was hiring staff with ties to former state Sen. Vince Fumo for his gubernatorial campaign.

Ken Snyder is doing Knox's media. Christopher Craig, counsel to the state Senate Appropriations Committee for Fumo, will be drawing up policy papers.

Could Fumocrats be rowing in the same boat as John Dougherty's guys from electricians' Local 98? Could Knox bring the two long-feuding political camps together?

Well, maybe not.

Our conversation with Knox yesterday left us with the impression that he and Dougherty are not so tight.

One potential source of friction: Local 98 confessed last year that it was behind thousands of anonymous fliers in the 2007 race that attacked Michael Nutter's choice of religion and suggested that he was in favor of racial profiling.

Knox said that he hasn't spoken with Dougherty but assumes that he'll get "broad-based union support."

A Local 98 spokesman said that it was too soon for the union to know whom it will back for governor.

Cozen eyes Harrisburg

In these perilous times for law firms, which are either shrinking or sinking with economic woes, some see opportunity.

Tad Decker, chief executive at Cozen O'Connor, told Clout yesterday that his firm was thinking of establishing a stronghold in Harrisburg.

The firm already has taken in several attorneys from Wolf Block, which is dissolving. Mark Alderman, that firm's chairman, would bring valuable pull in Washington, after his service on President Obama's finance team. Alderman said that he has been talking with Cozen O'Connor and that "it looks very promising."

Commissioner Eddie?

Gov. Rendell's press secretary, Chuck Ardo, says that when Ed leaves office in January 2011, he'd like to become commissioner of the NFL or Major League Baseball.

Ardo tells the Harrisburg Patriot-News that "Ed Rendell is not going to run for any office, and Ed Rendell is not the kind of man who is going to sit on the beach. . . . If he were offered the opportunity to be commissioner of baseball or football he would be interested."

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is scheduled to retire in 2012. Time to start lobbying team owners? (Note to Ed: Selig's reported compensation in 2007 was $18.5 million in salary and benefits; NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just took a 20 percent pay cut from his reported $11 million annual package. So, you know, sa-wing, battah!)

D.A. hopefuls duke it out

Candidates for district attorney will participate in a debate moderated by Clout cohort Dave Davies. Hosted by philly.com, Fox 29 and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Alumni Association, the showdown will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the National Constitution Center.

PhillyClout will be live-blogging the matchup, providing our expert insights and political wit. So come on over to phillyclout. com for the fun.

Nutter would like some recess

Being mayor can't compare to snack time and milk and cookies.

During a news conference this week to announce funding for arts education for young people, Nutter commented on a group of wide-eyed first-graders sitting in the front row.

"Wow, first grade!" Nutter said. "I'd really like to be in first grade. I was doing so well then." *

Staff writer John Baer contributed to this report.

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