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Candidates spend a day on the streets

The five Democrats seeking the nomination for Phila. mayor had a productive final Saturday.

The five major candidates for the Democratic mayoral nomination spent the final Saturday of the campaign traversing Philadelphia in a nonstop search for votes.

Dwight Evans planned to stump through the night in a 24-hour marathon. Michael Nutter rode on a bandwagon with a brass band, trailed by two Fairmount Park trolleys.

Bob Brady rode a flatbed truck through the river wards. Tom Knox stopped at diners and rallied campaign workers. Chaka Fattah endorsed City Council candidates and greeted shoppers.

It was retail politics in its purest, most frenetic form.

"After all of the commercials," Evans said, "it comes down to the street."

During the day, Nutter made stops in Manayunk, North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, Germantown and Mount Airy. At the North Philadelphia event, he picked up the endorsement of former Councilwoman Augusta Clark.

On several occasions, Nutter was asked to explain his support for letting police stop, question and frisk people suspected of carrying illegal weapons. That proposal has become a flash point in recent days.

"I will never, ever, ever under any circumstances allow anyone's individual rights to be taken away," he told a group of women in North Philadelphia, saying police would get special training before using a tactic aimed at combatting gun violence. Nutter said any officer "who even thinks of stepping out of line will have to deal with me."

Nutter's daughter, Olivia, 12, star of a campaign ad, was stumping, too - by "robocall." Phones rang in Democratic households yesterday with a message from Olivia saying "my dad" would work for safer and better schools. Later came calls from TV celebrity judge Greg Mathis, saying "exactly what Philly needs" is Fattah.

Brady, whose campaign made 20 stops Friday on the late-night bar circuit, was back on the trail again by 10 a.m., stopping to shake hands in Northeast Philadelphia with parents watching the opening day of T-ball at the Rhawnhurst Athletic Association.

"I've been doing late nights since we started this thing," said Brady, casually dressed in chinos and a print shirt. "Fun, fun, fun. You get a little tired, but it's fun."

The opposition was one step ahead of Brady in Rhawnhurst. Members of the electricians' union, whose leader, John Dougherty, has allied himself with Knox, had been tipped off to Brady's schedule. They plastered the neighborhood with Knox posters and were handing out Knox literature and banners when Brady arrived.

In the afternoon, Brady hopped into the back of a truck to tour Kensington, Port Richmond and Fishtown.

Knox worked the breakfast crowd at diners in South Philadelphia before heading to the Northeast.

At the Net Cost Market on Bustleton Avenue in Somerton, Knox had to wait for a Russian translator to introduce himself to the mostly Russian-speaking shoppers, some of whom aren't citizens and many of whom live Bucks County or New Jersey.

Knox spent much of the day visiting various rallies of campaign workers and canvassers in West Philadelphia, North Philadelphia and the Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia.

"I'm voting for you," a woman in Point Breeze told him. "You going to make it happen for me?"

Fattah was all over town, giving his political blessing to two at-large Council candidates, incumbent Blondell Reynold Brown and challenger Bill Green, and four district candidates, challengers all: Curtis Jones in the Fourth, Maria Quinones Sanchez in the Seventh, Cindy Bass in the Eighth, and Ray Jones in the Ninth.

As for his own prospects, Brady was upbeat. Though he has run third in recent polls, he predicted he would score an upset Tuesday similar to the one that sent him to Washington in 1994.

"The media endorsements are for Nutter, and money is for Knox," Fattah said. "But we have the momentum as the window of decision is opening."

Fattah also announced plans to hold a donor conference for foundations and corporations his first week as mayor to begin attacking generational poverty in Philadelphia.

Evans began his "24 Hours on the Evans Express" with an aerobic workout at a North Philadelphia fitness center before walking the business district in Point Breeze.

During his walk, he encountered Diane Dunn, 48, who lost a son in a shooting five years ago. "We need somebody who's going to stop the violence," she told him before assuring him of her vote. "It won't bring my son back, but I don't want there to be so many grieving mothers."

The later stages of Evans' round-the-clock schedule were to take him to bowling alleys in Northern Liberties as well as all-night steak shops and diners in South Philadelphia.