If you have a few minutes Tuesday, the city is having a general election

Posted: November 01, 2013

A MERE FRACTION of Philadelphia's 1,024,362 registered voters are expected to show up Tuesday to cast general-election ballots.

They'll be electing a district attorney, city controller and judges for Superior Court (one), the Court of Common Pleas (seven) and Municipal Court (three).

We'll see if city voters can beat the dismal 9.28 percent turnout for the May 21 primary election.

In the top two races, District Attorney Seth Williams seeks a second term, challenged by Republican Danny Alvarez, while City Controller Alan Butkovitz seeks a third term, challenged by Republican Terry Tracy.

The incumbents have the edge here, since Philly's registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than six-to-one.

Williams and Butkovitz also have significantly more campaign cash in the bank than the challengers, according to finance reports filed last week.

That's not to say Alvarez and Tracy are finished in the public arena if they lose Tuesday.

Some Republicans are already talking about asking Alvarez to challenge state Rep. Brendan Boyle in Northeast Philly's 170th state House district.

It makes sense. Alvarez has knocked on a lot of doors in the Northeast this campaign season. And Boyle is also seeking a U.S. House seat next year.

Alvarez this week said he's heard the talk - and it doesn't make him very happy. At all.

"I'm disappointed that people would start rumors, in my opinion, to sabotage my efforts for district attorney," Alvarez said.

Tracy told us "the answer is unequivocally yes" when we asked if he wants to seek another public office if he loses Tuesday.

"But I have no idea what's next," he added.

Tracy is sure that he doesn't want to run for a state office in Philly to legislate in Harrisburg. He's committed to working on city issues here at home.

"I love the urban issues," Tracy said.

State probe and security

We have more questions than answers about the state Attorney General's Office investigation of state Sen. LeAnna Washington of Philadelphia.

The Inquirer reported on Oct. 20 that investigators searched Washington's offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Montgomery County for evidence of campaign activity.

Washington's attorney said she is cooperating with investigators, adding that "this matter was apparently triggered by a disgruntled former employee who was terminated earlier this year."

That may be a reference to Sean McCray, who worked for Washington from June 2010 until February, serving in his last nine months as her chief of staff.

Washington was apparently so concerned about McCray that she hired a security guard to protect the office after he was fired.

W. Russell Faber, the state Senate's chief clerk, this week confirmed that the state paid $896 starting in February to post a private security guard at Washington's Philadelphia office during working hours for eight days.

McCray did not respond to our messages seeking comment.

The mayoral mystique

Philadelphia has had 98 mayors - none of them a woman.

Hoping to change that in 2016, when Mayor Nutter's successor takes over, some operatives are seeking a female contender to join the male-dominated field.

Judith von Seldeneck, who runs a diversity recruiting firm and has strong ties to the Philly political class, is trying to persuade women to run.

"I definitely think the time is right, and I think the city is right," she said. "There's a lot of energy around trying to make it happen this time."

Several names have circulated: Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez; former District Attorney Lynne Abraham; Project HOME director Sister Mary Scullion; Mural Arts program director Jane Golden; and Red Cross CEO Renee Cardwell Hughes, a former judge.

New names are popping up.

Terry Gillen, the city's federal liaison and former Redevelopment Authority chief, is eyeing a run, three sources tell Clout.

Gillen says she won't comment on the mayor's race until after the 2014 race for governor.

Former Philadelphia Style owner Dana Spain, who founded the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, has said she is exploring a run, possibly as a Republican or as an independent.

And former Mayor Ed Rendell, responding to a draft movement to get him to run again, told Philadelphia magazine that people should look at Vanguard executive Alba Martinez, a former city official and nonprofit leader. In a statement, Martinez said she is "committed to my role at Vanguard."

We also surveyed the women of City Council: Blondell Reynolds Brown, Jannie Blackwell, Cindy Bass ruled out 2015 runs. Marian Tasco did not respond.

Quinones-Sanchez said she has an interest in moving to the second floor but is leaning toward sitting out the 2015 election cycle.

- Staff Writer Sean Collins Walsh contributed to this report.

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout.com

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