ON WHAT COULD have been a low-key afternoon of Philadelphia mayoral candidates dropping off petition signatures to get their names on the May 19 primary ballot yesterday, T. Milton Street instead threw bombs at a fellow candidate, state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.
Street, the last of the six remaining Democratic mayoral candidates to drop off petitions at City Hall by yesterday's deadline, charged that Williams had submitted at least 6,000 fraudulent signatures, which, Street said, constituted a pattern of fraud that should result in the senator being kicked off the ballot.
"There is case law where if there's a pattern of signing fraudulent signatures, then you can be denied access to the ballot," said Street, who told reporters that he would pursue the matter in court and with the city's Board of Ethics.
Street said he had five or six sources - whom he would not name - who saw Williams' signatures and told him that thousands were fakes.
"I will guarantee you his signatures are fraudulent, and almost as much as 75 percent of them," added Street, who said he would withdraw from the race if proved wrong.
Candidates for mayor, at-large City Council, city commissioner and city judgeships had to submit at least 1,000 signatures from city residents by 5 p.m. yesterday. Candidates running for district City Council seats had to submit 750 signatures.
According to the mayoral campaigns: Williams submitted 15,000 signatures; former Councilman James Kenney had 10,070; former Common Pleas Judge Nelson Diaz had close to 5,000; former Philadelphia Gas Works vice president Doug Oliver had 4,125; former District Attorney Lynne Abraham had nearly 4,000; and Street, a former state senator, had 3,261.
The Rev. Keith Goodman, a Democrat, dropped out of the race yesterday afternoon, he said, to devote more time to his ministry and to help families of children with special needs and those affected by violence.
The lone Republican running for mayor, Melissa Murray Bailey, submitted 2,250 signatures, city elections officials said.
Those numbers and the number of signatures collected for candidates for other offices will be confirmed today, the city officials said.
Albert Butler, Williams' campaign spokesman, said he would not respond to Street's allegations, which he said were without merit.
In a statement released after Street made his allegations, Williams' campaign said its 15,000 signatures resulted from 12-hour days, seven days a week, since Feb. 17.
"Our team is made up of committed staff of all ages and backgrounds, but we are particularly proud of our millennials - whose enthusiasm carried our theme of One Philadelphia to all corners of the city and really engaged voters with Tony's message," the Williams campaign's statement said.
Also as a result of yesterday's filings:
Of the city's 10 Council districts, just four incumbents will face challengers in the May primary. The battle for the 2nd District, which has pitted developer Ori Feibush against Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, has been raging for months, but most other incumbents are facing political lightweights.
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell of the 3rd District will once again face former youth-detention counselor and self-described author Tony Dphax King. King ran against the deeply entrenched West Philadelphia politician in 2011, garnering just 130 votes.
Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez of the 7th District will have to fend off last-minute candidate Manny Morales, who reportedly is backed by the councilwoman's political rival in the Kensington neighborhood, state Rep. Angel Cruz.
In the 8th District, Councilwoman Cindy Bass will square off against Greg Paulmier, a ward leader trying for the fifth time to be elected to represent the Northwest Philadelphia district.
The most contentious district may turn out to be the 9th, where longtime Councilwoman Marian Tasco in January announced she was retiring and wanted state Rep. Cherelle Parker to succeed her.
Perhaps sensing that Parker is vulnerable because of the recent state Supreme Court ruling that upheld her 2011 DUI conviction, two other Democratic contenders have emerged for the seat: nonprofit founder Archye Leacock and former school-bus driver Sabriya Bilal.
Additionally, no fewer than 28 candidates are gunning for the seven citywide at-large council seats - 21 for five Democratic seats, and seven for the two seats reserved for Republicans.
There are plenty of familiar names in the crowded field of Democrats, including Frank "Franny" Rizzo Jr., who served in Council as a Republican from 1995 to 2012.
Along with incumbents Blondell Reynolds Brown, Bill Greenlee, Wilson Goode Jr. and Ed Neilson are challengers Barbara Capozzi, who narrowly lost a district race to Kenyatta Johnson in 2011, Center City condo king Allan Domb, education advocate Helen Gym, businessman Paul Steinke and educator Isaiah Thomas.
Republican at-large Council incumbents Denny O'Brien and David Oh may have to fight for the two seats guaranteed to the minority party by city charter. Their own party has decided not to endorse them for re-election, leaving the field open for challengers Al Taubenberger, former at-large candidate Matt Wolfe and three others.
Not everyone made the 5 p.m. deadline.
Signature gatherers for Republican Council candidate Terry Tracey were still notarizing petitions in the hallway outside the commissioner's office as the door swung shut.
And the Rev. Lewis Nash was turned away at 5:15 p.m. with a bundle of petitions to support a run for Council.