In the battle for two GOP at-large seats being vacated by Frank Rizzo and Jack Kelly, State Rep. Dennis O'Brien, a former Speaker of the House, will move from Harrisburg to City Hall after a strong showing.
And David Oh, whose political obituary was written for most of the night, staged a late comeback in the final precincts to take a slim lead over Al Taubenberger, the party's mayoral candidate in 2007.
With a handful of precincts to be counted, about 140 votes separated the two, meaning days and possibly weeks until a winner is finally declared.
This is familiar territory for Oh, who led Kelly by seven votes on Election Day 2007, but lost by 122 votes after two weeks of tense counting and contesting of ballots.
"I'm optimistic, my numbers are good," Oh said at his campaign party Tuesday night. "It looks like a repeat, but my numbers are much better."
Even with O'Neill's victory, six new Council members will take office on Jan. 2, the largest spring-cleaning of Council since 1991, when Mayor Nutter was part of a class of seven new members.
How well Nutter works with this latest group of freshman could have a major impact on the success of his second term. He could pitch the newbies on ending the controversial DROP pension program and enacting a soda tax - ideas the current Council defeated without breaking a sweat.
"It's a substantial influx," said Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald. "I'm sure the mayor might hope that Council would rethink DROP."
Four District Council members with nearly a century of experience among them - Frank DiCicco, Joan Krajewski, Donna Reed Miller and Council President Anna C. Verna - are leaving at the end of the year.
Their replacements - all Democrats - won easily against no or nominal competition: Cindy Bass in the Eighth District, Bobby Henon in the Sixth District, Kenyatta Johnson in the Second District, and Mark Squilla in the First District.
The politics of replacing Verna as president played a huge, background role in Tuesday's election.
Oh, vying to become the first Asian American on Council, withered in recent days under an intense negative advertising campaign funded by political action committees tied to John J. Dougherty, the powerful leader of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Dougherty is believed to be angling for support to elect Councilman Darrell L. Clarke as president. Oh likely would support Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco for president.
Dougherty had thrown his money and influence behind Joseph McColgan, the third place finisher in the GOP at-large primary. But it was Taubenberger who appeared to benefit the most from's Oh's fall.
Taubenberger, who said he would not support Tasco for president, attributed his rise to hard work, a well-timed television commercial and his familiarity with voters.
"My candidacy is over a period of 20 years. People knew who I was," he said Tuesday night. "That makes a difference."
The advertising campaign against Oh was based on a series of columns in the Daily News that explored whether Oh mischaracterized his military record and raised his previous arrest on a gun charge, which was dismissed.
Those questions, coupled with Oh's garbled responses, breathed new life into the campaigns of GOP candidates McColgan, Taubenberger and Michael Untermeyer.
The five Democratic incumbent District Council members cruised to victory Tuesday, as did the five incumbent Democratic at-large members.
Inquirer staff writer Miriam Hill contributed to this report
Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 email@example.com or @troyjgraham on Twitter.