Mayor Nutter, as expected, easily won the Democratic nomination to run for reelection. His only challenger in the party's primary, former State Sen. T. Milton Street, managed to corral some protest votes, but not enough to matter.

That was as it should have been. Street, who served time for not paying his taxes on time, isn't qualified to manage the city's affairs. The votes he received Tuesday had more to do with dissatisfaction with Nutter than Street's ability to be mayor.

With rain falling most of the day, turnout was even less than the lackluster predictions. Lack of excitement about the mayoral race was a factor. Several district City Council contests generated heat, but no citywide race created energy.

In such a heavily Democratic city, his primary win is tantamount to a coronation for Nutter. The Republican primary winner could prove people wrong, but the most expected of the GOP candidate is that person may present enough of a challenge to Nutter to make the fight interesting.

That could happen because Nutter is vulnerable on some issues. Street tried to attack one weak spot, the city's high unemployment rate. But he couldn't show how the mayor could have done any better during a recession.

The fall campaign should address items left on the mayor's plate after one term. For example, he sees no urgency in negotiating new contracts with city workers since their pay scales stay the same without a contract, but that chore needs to be completed.

Voters in the November election also need a clearer idea of how the next mayor plans to solve the city's long-term pension funding problem; how and when the property-tax assessment system will be fixed; when, if ever, the wage-tax reductions will resume; and what greater role - other than naming an education commissioner - City Hall can play to improve city schools.

Because he lacked real competition this time, Nutter didn't campaign the same way he did four years ago in unpredictably beating four strong opponents - Tom Knox, Chaka Fattah, Bob Brady, and Dwight Evans. People were excited about voting for Nutter in 2007 because he represented change from Philadelphia's tired, old politics.

Nutter has indeed injected a breath of fresh air into City Hall's ethics. But he needs to get people excited about that cause again, because there was plenty of old-fashioned Philly politics being played in this year's primaries, especially in some of the Council races.

A subplot to all the maneuvering involves who will become Nutter's chief foil, or ally, as Council president. That, too, may have been decided Tuesday even though it wasn't on the ballot.