Nutter, Montco Dems and sports betting big winners

    12:15 a.m.  WHYY’s Tom McDonald has filed this report on the victory speech of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who easily won re-election Tuesday, beating Republican Karen Brown and independent Wali Rahman.

    11:52 p.m. In New Jersey, Princeton Borough, home to Princeton University, and Princeton Township overwhelming voted to combine. In the township, the measure was approved 3,542 to 604. In the borough, the tally was 1,385 in favor and 802 against.

    11:32 p.m. Democrats in Montgomery County, after years of slow gains, have won a major prize on Tuesday – a majority on the county commission.

    NewsWorks’ Reporter Jennifer Lynn reports that Republican Bruce Castor will be joined by Democrats Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards. Castor won the one seat mandated for the minority party.

    That would leave out in the cold Jenny Brown, a Republican candidate who received support from the Tea Party.

    With 70 percent of precincts reporting, the Democrats were winning about 27 percent of overall votes, the Republicans 23 percent.

    In Bucks County, all three incumbent commissioners – Republicans Charles Martin and Robert Loughery, and Democrat Diane Ellis-Marseglia – look like they will be returned to office, keeping a Republican majority.

    In Mercer County, N.J., Princeton Borough and Princeton Township overwhelmingly voted to merge.  In other interesting referenda in New Jersey, Moorestown agreed to allow liquor sales at restaurants at Moorestown Mall, and the state’s voters overwhelmingly approved the idea of sports betting in a non-binding referendum.

    10:27 p.m. Al Schmidt, favorite of the forces for reform of the Philadelphia Republican Party, has won a seat on the City Commission, the city’s board of elections.  Dave Davies has called that one on his blog, Off Mic.

    He also notes that the race for the second Republican at-large seat on Council is a close one between Al Taubenberger and David Oh.  Dennis O’Brien looks solid for the other spot on Council.

    10:08 p.m. In New Jersey’s 2nd District Senate race, the Associated Press has called Democrat Jim Whelan, the incumbent, as the winner, over Republican Assemblyman Vince Polistina. With 90 percent of the vote in, Whelan has 54 percent to Polistina’s 46 percent.

    10:04 p.m.  Brian O’Neill has won another term as the lone Republican representing a district seat on Philadelphia City Council.

    He easily defeated Democratic challenger Bill Rubin, who had hoped to tie O’Neill to unpopular Council policies such as use of the DROP early retirement program.

    Democrat Cindy Bass has been elected to represent the Eighth District on City Council. Bass defeated independenty candidate Brian Rudnick in a landslide.   Returns show her holding at least an 80 percent to 20 percent lead.

    A senior policy advisor on urban and domestic policy to U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, Bass will replace outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller in January.

    “It feels really great,” Bass said. “It means that our message had resonated, but we’ve got to keep this going.”

    The Associated Press has called the Philadelphia race for Michael Nutter already, as he is trouncing as expected the GOP challenger Karen Brown and independent Wail Rahman.

    In using early fund raising and smart maneuvering, Nutter showed political skill in clearing the field of potentially troublesome Democratic or Republican challengers – a level of skill he’s had a harder time mustering in his bid to get his agenda through a restive and resentful City Council.

     9:15 p.m. Make it a double for Moorestown, N.J., where voters easily approved two referendums permitting liquor sales in the dry town. According to Moorestown Patch, the first question, which permits liquor sales at restaurants, passed 4,138-2,750. The second question, which limits sales to the area around the Moorestown Mall, passed 3,750-2,876.

    8:39 p.m. The Committee of Seventy reports turnouts ranging from the high teens to the low 30s at the precincts in Philadelphia where it has been monitoring the busy-ness of the polls.  Some high turnouts in the Central region and in the Northeast, where a brisk district Council campaign and at-large Republican tussle could be drawing Republican voters.Few voters had problems that bugged them enough to visit the city’s election court, Ellen Kaplan of Seventy reports.  Most of the problems the committee heard about had to do with failures to post notices at polling places in foreign languages, especially Chinese and Spanish.

    8:05 p.m. Polls have closed.

    The wait for definitive results should not be as long as on some election days of yore.

    Are you a betting person?  Well, what are your odds on the voters of New Jersey approving the idea of sports betting in Atlantic City?

    John Mooney of NJ Spotlight, a NewsWorks partner, just told us on air that he’s pretty sure the referendum will pass easily.

    That won’t mean much though, since federal law bars sports betting everywhere but in Nevada.

    Getting this non-binding ballot question approved by voters is the first step that supporters of a Garden State sports book, such as state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, need to take to set up a challenge to the federal law.

    Meanwhile, very, very early returns on the city election results site show Republican challenger Karen Brown trailing Mayor Nutter by only 148 votes.  Of course, that was with only about 200 votes counted.

    She probably won’t get any closer.

    7:43 p.m. Why be a challenger if you don’t cling to a belief that you can win?

    In honor of the late Joe Frazier, let’s recall what boxers call this notion that upsets can and do happen: “A puncher’s chance.”  One lucky blow and …

    Up in Philadelphia’s Eighth Council District today, Brian Rudnick was channeling the spirit of Joe.

    “I think I’m going to win by a little,” Rudnick, an independent with Green Party ties, told our Aaron Moselle.

    Everyone else, just about, thinks that Democrat Cindy Bass, who has close ties to get-out-the-vote master U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, will win the seat by a lot.  The competitive Council races are expected to be in the Northeast (the 10th) and the five-way contest among Republicans for the two at-large seats designated for the minority party by the City Charter.

    Click here for our team coverage of the Eighth District race.

    5:10 p.m.Well, today – all sun and golden hues – surely has been a wonderful day to hold an election.

    Apparently, also a swell day to ignore an election.

    Turnouts around the region are reported to be anywhere for light to sparse to “what, they’re holding an election today?”

    A few legislative races in New Jersey drew higher than normal interest, while in Pennsylvania county commissioner races in Montgomery and Bucks Counties spurred a little turnout.

    In Philadelphia, though, where Mayor Nutter is expected to cruise to a second term and the outcomes of only three Council seats seem to be in any doubt, it was a good day for election judges to finish off that Sudoku puzzle or to gripe together about the Eagles’ defense.  As of 5 p.m., the Committee of Seventy watchdog group was reporting turnouts of between 11 percent and 24 percent at sample precincts.

    But it’s an election, so NewsWorks and WHYY-FM will be here tonight to cover it for you.

    Here’s the plan:

    On the Web, this is the space right here to find our coverage of the elections in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

    On air, we’ll bring you reports throughout the evening on 90.9 FM, interspersed with our regular programming.

    Here’s when to check tonight for on-air updates from host Dave Heller, senior political writer Dave Davies, our reporters in the field and some very smart invited guests:

    8:01-8:06

    8:30:30-8:32:30

    9:01-9:06

    10:01-10:06

    10:50-11:00

    11:01-11:06

    11:50-midnight

    Here’s what we’ll be following for you and where are reporters will be:

    Tom MacDonald will be at Nutter headquarters with reports on the mayor’s race.  Elizabeth Fielder will be up in the Northeast, for one the hotly contested district Council race, the 10th, where Democratic Bill Rubin challenges long-time Republican incumbent Brian O’Neill.  She’ll be at O’Neill headquarters, while Feed blogger Shannon McDonald will be watching Rubin’s supporters.

    Jennifer Lynn will report on the close Montgomery Commissioners race. We’ll also have reports from the other suburban Pennsylvania counties.

    In New Jersey, we’ll be following the battle for control of the state Legislature all evening.   John Mooney of NJ Spotlight and Ben Dworkin of Rider University will provide analysis, while Spotlight’s Joe Tyrrell will report on South Jersey’s most-watched legislative race, state Sen. Jim Whelan, Democrat from Atlantic City, trying to hold off GOP challenger Assemblyman Vincent Polistina,

    We’ll also follow interesting local referenda on uniting the two Princetons in Mercer County and Moorestown allowing some liquor sales, as well as the Garden State’s sports betting referendum.

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