So did the best man win?

Conventional wisdom: U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah or U.S. Rep. Bob Brady would be trying out a new title this morning, yet another tired, toxic example of Philadelphia politics keeping it in the family and voting on racial lines.

Unconventional wisdom: Tom Knox would be bragging to his business buddies that dropping $10 million to be mayor was the best money he ever spent.

Philadelphia's new reality: Michael Nutter, a nerdy outsider with inside experience on City Council, would walk away with the Democratic primary, which in this town pretty much guarantees winner-takes-all in the fall.

For that, Nutter should thank a girl he adores and a man he abhors.

Olivia Nutter's star turn in a humanizing ad for Dad should earn the cutie a convertible, an agent, and a get-out-of-trouble-for-life card.

But if you really want to know why Nutter won, rewind to 2003, when "the bug" was discovered in Mayor Street's office.

The Street antidote

The primary was Fattah's to screw up and Knox's to buy.

Brady had ward leaders, unions, and a symbolic cheesesteak in his pocket. State Rep. Dwight Evans had the closest thing to an endorsement Gov. Rendell was inclined to give.

So how did Nutter, of all people, pull it off?

It couldn't have been all those newspaper editorials, since supposedly nobody reads them anymore.

It certainly wasn't his chummy personality, though for my money, the former disco DJ's impromptu version of "Rapper's Delight" for me as we walked in Center City showed him as a guy people could like as much as they respect.

Nutter won by selling himself as the exact opposite of the man currently holding the job.

Rare is the twice-elected mayor who is as disliked, distrusted and dismissed as John Street.

Granted, the public-corruption bug never actually bit him. But his city treasurer and two Commerce Bank officials were convicted.

From the moment Nutter gave up his Council seat, he was running against Street and everything he represented - the machine, pay-to-play, letting friends have their way.

Consider violence. Street has been strangely silent about the bloodshed. Nutter nearly gives himself a stroke talking about it. And he dared to stake his campaign on it.

"I have a civil right not to be shot," Nutter would bark whenever he was asked about his controversial stop-and-frisk proposal.

And don't even get Nutter started about whether all this black-on-black crime is ridding the city of bad seeds.

"They're real people," he told me. "Whether they're stellar citizens or drug dealers, they're real people being killed in this city every day."

Now the real people have a man with a plan to save them.

Best rap, worst rap

Nutter may be the official winner, but his wasn't the only victory of this race.

Brady delivered the best debate one-liner with his quip that Knox was "a deputy mayor making a dollar-a-year and you were grossly overpaid."

Fattah wins for worst debate one-liner, digging deep into a bag of race bait when he said Nutter had to "remind himself that he's African American."

Evans claimed the prize for most bizarre political ad with that confounding "table" commercial.

And Knox wins for most cynical canoodling for his spring fling with City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. Words cannot describe that sitcom.

And as for the one campaign promise I will insist be honored? That's easy: getting "Mixmaster Mike" to rap for the masses.

Pick a song, any song. Philadelphians are dying to hear a mayor keeping it real.

Contact Monica Yant Kinney
at 215-854-4670 or myant@phillynews.com.
Read her recent work at http://go.philly.com/yantkinney.