A new generation of City Council members was nominated in Tuesday's primary, guaranteeing at least six fresh faces who could make or break Mayor Nutter's second term.
While Nutter cruised to victory over T. Milton Street Sr., voters chose Democratic candidates in five hotly contested Council races and turned away GOP stalwart Frank Rizzo.
Four districts with retiring incumbents will be represented by freshman council members in 2012, including Mark Squilla in the First District, Bobby Henon in the Sixth, and Cindy Bass in the Eighth.
The race in the Second remained too close to call Tuesday night, with just a handful of votes separating Barbara Capozzi and State Rep. Kenyatta Johnson.
Those candidates either face no Republican candidate in November or will be heavy favorites.
Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez, cast by political observers as the underdog to retain her Seventh District seat, turned back Danny Savage, the man she snatched it from in the 2007 Democratic primary.
Quiñones Sánchez said her underdog label was "symptomatic of the disrespect" shown to her supporters.
"I think we've demonstrated today that, not only in my neighborhood but throughout the whole district, that they were happy with my work," she said.
On the Republican side, the GOP will send two new at-large members to Council after voters rejected Rizzo. The other Republican at-large member, Jack Kelly, is retiring.
Rizzo appears to have been a victim of the voter revolt against DROP, the controversial pension program that he and other elected officials were enrolled in.
"I knew it was an uphill battle," Rizzo said. "Listen, that's what elections are all about, they send a very clear message."
For once, all five Republicans vying for at-large seats in the general election are electable candidates - David Oh, State Rep. Dennis O'Brien, former mayoral candidate Al Taubenberger, Joe McColgan, and either Malcolm Lazin and Michael Untermeyer, who were separated by a few hundred votes for the last spot. The GOP at-large battle could be the most exciting of the November contests as the five nominees compete for the two seats reserved for the minority party.
The new Council members also could be pivotal in deciding who will be the next Council president, with the retirement of President Anna C. Verna.
Majority Leader Marian B. Tasco and Majority Whip Darrell L. Clarke are expected to vie for that spot, with Jannie L. Blackwell as a dark-horse candidate. All three easily beat their Democratic primary opponents Tuesday. None has a Republican challenger.
The five Democratic at-large incumbents survived. Blondell Reynolds Brown, Bill Green, William K. Greenlee, W. Wilson Goode Jr., and James F. Kenney turned back strong challenges from Sherrie Cohen and Andy Toy.
The five Democratic nominees will almost certainly be elected in November as the top five vote-getters, with the party's better than 6-1 registration advantage over Republicans.
In the Second District, with 98 percent of the precincts reporting, fewer than 100 votes separated Johnson, a two-term state representative, and Capozzi, a well-known South Philadelphia real estate agent and developer. They are battling to replace Verna in a district representing parts of South and Southwest Philadelphia.
The winner would face Republican Ivan Cohen in the fall as a heavy favorite.
Capozzi was a traditional Verna ally, but the Council president did not endorse a candidate in the race. Johnson burst onto the political scene in 2008, beating a 22-year incumbent to earn a seat in Harrisburg. He easily won reelection in 2010.
In the First District covering parts of South Philadelphia and the river wards, Squilla won in surprisingly easy fashion to succeed Councilman Frank DiCicco. No Republican is running there.
In the Sixth District in Port Richmond and the Northeast, Henon, the political director for the powerful Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, bested Marty Bednarek, a former member of the School Reform Commission.
Both men had deep roots in the district, represented for more than 30 years by retiring Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, and each had strong bases of support and establishment endorsements.
But Henon raised an astounding amount of money - more than $624,000 - with heavy doses from political-action committees associated with organized labor.
Bednarek had the backing of Krajewski and Nutter, but the unions and former Gov. Ed Rendell lined up behind Henon, who will face Republican Sandra Stewart in the general election.
"I had the best run campaign that I have seen ever," Henon said. "I think the message that I had out there resonated. When I was out there knocking on doors and meeting people in the street, they got the message."
In Northwest Philadelphia, Bass emerged from a field of seven candidates to replace Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller in the Eighth District.
Bass, a senior aide to U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, was running for the second time in a district that stretches from the city's richest neighborhood (Chestnut Hill) to some of its poorest (Tioga and Nicetown).
"This is a very fractured district and has been fractured for a long time," she said. "Now it's time to do the heavy work to bring those folks together. It's critical that we find a way to unite this district."
Bass was able to outlast her nearest competitors, including Howard Treatman, a wealthy businessman, and Verna Tyner, a former chief of staff to Councilman William K. Greenlee. Greg Paulmier, who twice finished second to Miller, again had a strong showing.
Treatman donated more than $250,000 of his own money to his campaign, triggering a provision that doubled the contribution limits for the other candidates.
With no Republican challenger, Bass becomes the councilwoman-in-waiting. She will join members Curtis Jones Jr. and Blondell Reynolds Brown as Fattah allies on Council.
Blackwell, representing the Third District in West Philadelphia, crushed Tony King. Jones, whose Fourth District covers West and Northwest Philadelphia, ran unopposed and does not have a Republican opponent.
Republican Brian J. O'Neill, representing the 10th District in the Northeast, was unopposed, and will face Democratic challenger Bill Rubin, who was also unopposed, in the general election.