A Horn & Hardart's coffee can has for decades brought joy or dejection to political candidates, becoming a well-known City Hall icon for ballot fortune, good or bad.

Meet Mr. Horn N. Hardart.  The icon now has a Facebook page, describing him as non-partisan, vintage, interested in political intrigue, easy on the eyes and, of course, "very well rounded."

The city's Board of Elections uses the can to select the order in which candidates appear on primary and general election ballots.  Candidates draw numbered bingo balls from the can (no peeking) to determine the order.  The first ballot position is considered the best pick.  A high number in a crowded race can dash hopes.

The process can take on the air of a circus.  Consider March 2011, when former state Sen. T. Milton Street Sr. was challenging Mayor Nutter's bid for a second term.  Street did not arrive in time for the drawing but took first place on the Democratic primary ballot when a proxy drew for him.  That set off waves of laughter in the City Hall courtroom where the drawing takes place.

This year's drawing will be held next Wednesday at 11 a.m. in City Hall room 676.

Street, running again as a Democrat for Mayor, will be one of the candidates drawing.  But will he stay on the ballot? A legal challenge to Street's candidacy seems likely because city and state records show him registered as an independent, not a Democrat, for the last three years.

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