But Clout has good news. When ward leaders show up at party headquarters at 11:30 this morning, the checks will be for $200 per division, according to Democratic chairman Bob Brady.
Not bad, he says, for a low-interest race topped by a mayoral contest in which Michael Nutter holds a 74 percent to 8 percent lead over Republican Al Taubenberger in the latest Daily News Keystone Poll.
"Where's the race?" said Brady. "You have the [state] Supreme Court, Superior Court and the Republican [City Council] at-large and that's it. It's a little tough to raise money."
City Committee this week has been calling on candidates to pony up some dough. They hit pay dirt on Wednesday, when Nutter wired a $200,000 contribution.
While Nutter's huge lead means he won't need a big turnout, other candidates do - especially the Democrats running for judge statewide.
"If you look at my TV commercial, it doesn't ask people to vote for me," Nutter said, "I just ask them to vote."
He said he considers turning out voters for the other Democratic candidates "part of my responsibility."
Which is why he plans to spend $1 million over the next few days on TV ads, print ads, lit drops and a door-to-door get out the vote effort.
"There was never a question" about making a major contribution to City Committee, Nutter said. "I've been talking to Bob and [party finance chairman] Frank Oliver, and I gave more than I was asked to give."
Although ward leaders will be relieved, at least one thinks the widespread angst was overblown.
"I think we've been spoiled a little bit," said ward leader Ron Donatucci. "In some of the past elections, we didn't need the kind of money we got. It got out of control. I can remember one election where it was $400 a division."
OK, a few leftovers from Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate.
Was Hillary Clinton trying to create a new fashion trend: Soviet chic? Or was the grim, boxy, black-and- brown pantsuit-blouse combination something her advisers said would make her look tougher and more determined?
Clinton is smart and tough enough that she could hold her own in any frock.
In the post-debate spin room, meanwhile, we had Gov. Rendell wondering why there hadn't been more substance and less UFO chat.
"Can you tell me where they stand on education?" he said. "Can you tell me where they stand on health care? NBC blew a chance to have a real discussion of the issues."
And Nutter was frustrated that there was no talk about issues important to cities.
"There was no mention of domestic policy," he said. "It was all national, all the time. I don't know how you can talk for two hours and not talk about crime."
Clout's two cents: U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware had the most direct, intelligent answers.
Gravel's rump caucus
Former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel, the only Democratic presidential nominee excluded by MSNBC from Tuesday's debate, held his own debate at the World Café.
Gravel's dry wit was a hit with the audience of 100 or so college students and activists.
He paused the debate on a big screen at various points and analyzed each candidate's statements.
"Listen to the drumbeat of war," Gravel said, as the candidates eagerly explained how they would handle a showdown with Iran. Later, he added: "I'm flat-ashamed of what they're doing."
A number of attendees said they found Gravel to be engaging, funny and superb at critiquing the candidate-speak.
"The last time I saw Hillary, I told her I was ashamed of her," Gravel said to loud applause.
Prep grad makes good
Also in town for the presidential debate: Tom Reynolds, St. Joe's Prep grad, class of 1995.
Reynolds is the national press secretary for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's campaign.
He caught the politics bug growing up in East Falls because his mom is Eileen Reynolds, former marketing/public-affairs specialist at the Daily News and Inquirer.
"In my house, we didn't watch TV over the table, we read newspapers," he said.
Reynolds took advantage of the quick Philly trip to return to the Prep to speak before advanced-placement government classes.
"It was a real treat to go back there and give a little back," he said.
Flavia: Cradle robber
Yes, the woman pictured in the arms of that strong young man is our Flavia Colgan.
But the interest here is her beau, Charles A. Conwell III, 25, and not the cradle-robbing Colgan, 30.
Conwell is the nephew of Tommy Conwell, as in Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, the legendary '80s Philly rock band.
He is also the nephew of Joe Conwell, '80s offensive tackle of the Eagles.
Charles Conwell, who played football himself at Archbishop Carroll, is trying to make his own legend in real estate in California, where he works for the Abbey company.
Conwell insists he had no trouble carrying Colgan. Does that mean she's easy to pick up?
The costumes were for a charity event on behalf of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation, which provides emergency assistance within 24 hours to needy single caregivers of children with catastrophic or life- threatening illnesses. *
Staff writers Gar Joseph, Dave Gambacorta and Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.
Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Contact Gar Joseph at email@example.com, call 215-854-5895, or fax 215-854-5910.