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Former Democratic Councilman Nutter Elected Philadelphia Mayor

Philadelphia elects a new mayor as Democrat Michael Nutter easily defeats Republican challenger Al Taubenberger.
/ Source: NBCPhiladelphia.com

Former city councilman Michael Nutter was elected mayor Tuesday after promising to take new steps to fight gun violence, crack down on corruption at City Hall and improve the city's famously beleaguered psyche.

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Nutter, who spent 15 years on City Council, promised to use "stop, question and frisk" tactics to cut down on the city's surging gun violence and vowed to crack down on no-bid contracts in the wake of a federal corruption investigation that netted nearly two dozen people. Republican Al Taubenberger, leader of a local business organization, raised little money and gained little momentum during his campaign.

With 1 percent of precincts reporting, Nutter had 2,313 votes, or 86 percent, and Taubenberger had 358, or 13 percent.

The 50-year-old Nutter, an adversary of two-term outgoing Mayor John Street since their days together on City Council, built a reputation as a reformer who helped create a city ethics committee and pass a smoking ban for most bars and restaurants.

He came back to win a five-man Democratic primary in May, fending off two congressman, a millionaire business executive and a state legislator.

Pennsylvania Judicial Races

Democrats have taken a lead for two open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Should the Democratic nominees' lead hold up, it will give Democrats a one-seat majority on the court. It's currently controlled by a one-seat Republican lead.

Also, seven statewide appellate judges appear to be holding their own in bids for additional 10-year terms. It's a sign that voters' wrath over the state government pay raises of 2005 may have run its course.

Pennsylvania Suburban Races

In the suburbs of Philadelphia, some hear the rumble of revolution as voters decide on county commissioner and council races.

Republicans still enjoy an edge in the number of registrations voters in the four Pennsylvania counties that border Philadelphia, but not with the strong majorities of before. With rising Democratic and independent registrations and national turmoil, Tuesday's election is a test of local tradition versus the claimed rising tide.

And watching all this are national and state party leaders, wondering what this all means for 2008 and beyond.

Other Pennsylvania Races

Mayor Lou Barletta, a Republican who gained national prominence by targeting illegal immigrants living in the small city of Hazleton, easily won re-election Tuesday to a third term.

He defeated a Libertarian candidate, John Medashefski, a coffee shop owner who argued the city should drop its effort to push through a law targeting illegal immigrants.

New Jersey Legislature

Democratic state Senator Ellen Karcher is fighting for her political survival tonight.

With a large portion of the vote counted, Karcher is still behind her Republican challenger, Jennifer Beck.

But even as the GOP closes in on Karcher's seat, Democrats appear to have captured a Republican seat.

Republican Sen. James "Sonny" McCullough has conceded the 2nd District race to Democratic Assemblyman James Whelan. The district includes Atlantic City.

Also, Democratic Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew leads incumbent Republican Senator Nicholas Asselta in the 1st District that includes Cape May and Cumberland counties.

Democrats are seeking to retain control of both the Assembly and Senate. But whatever the outcome of today's legislative races, nearly one-third of the incoming Legislature will be comprised of freshmen. Thirty-nine lawmakers aren't seeking re-election because they retired, resigned or lost in the June primary.

New Jersey Ballot Questions

A close race tonight on a ballot question that would approve more state borrowing.

A statewide ballot question that would allow the borrowing of $450 million to pay for stem cell research grants is losing so far tonight.

If the measures go down, it would be the first time a ballot question has been defeated since 1990.

A "yes" vote would make New Jersey second only to California in public funding for the research.

Backers say the research will advance treatment for spinal cord injuries and debilitating conditions such as Parkinson's disease, sickle cell anemia and multiple sclerosis.

But social conservatives oppose the measure because it would pay for research that destroys human embryos and would increase state debt.

Returns also show votes going against a measure to dedicate all money generated from a 2006 sales tax increase to property tax relief.

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