A loser with a winning attitude

Taubenberger conceded to Nutter and said, "He certainly is going to have my support."

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Al Taubenberger left Russ Cowan laughing yesterday at the Famous Fourth Street Deli in Queen Village, traditional gathering spot for the politically connected. Cowan owns the deli.

A model of graciousness in defeat, Republican Al Taubenberger saluted Michael Nutter's victory last night, pledged to work with the Democratic mayor-elect, and urged that their issues-oriented campaign serve as a benchmark for future races in Philadelphia.

Greeted with applause by 150 supporters at what seemed more like a buffet banquet than a campaign event - there were no balloons and few signs - Taubenberger conceded defeat just before 10 p.m. and took some satisfaction that the vote for him more than surpassed expectations.

"It's at moments like this that you really know who your friends are," said Taubenberger, surrounded by his family at the Knowlton Mansion near his home in Fox Chase.

"I've called Michael Nutter and congratulated him," he said. "I think he's going to do a fine job, and he certainly is going to have my support."

During the campaign, Taubenberger knew his chances were slim, and he once said that he felt his job was to make the next mayor a better mayor.

The two candidates refrained from personal attacks and spoke to the issues in their joint campaigns.

"I think there is an opportunity for him to be a great mayor, but he also has to have the dedication of the people around him," Taubenberger said. "I will help him if he wants that help."

And he said he hoped their campaign would serve as a model for future races.

He said their campaign - during which he called Nutter a friend - showed that "a race can really be about vision and ideas."

Even though he campaigned against a Democrat who was pronounced the "presumptive mayor" months ago, Taubenberger showed no signs of giving up until the end.

From morning into night yesterday, he crisscrossed the city, visiting polling places to press the flesh and ask people for their votes.

And he did it with a smile and humor.

Nightfall found Taubenberger in the Northeast, his home turf, where he handed out what he called his "baseball card."

"These might be a collector's item," he said, handing out one card. "Or they might be a great bookmark."

Time and time again, he introduced himself to voters, saying, "I'm Al Taubenberger, the other guy running for mayor."

"I'm number 215 on the ballot - same as the mayor's room at City Hall."

Or, he would say, "We need a mayor from Northeast Philadelphia - someone who knows where Roosevelt Boulevard is."

At the voting place for the Ninth Division in the 57th Ward - a garage in a home on Welsh Road - poll worker Michael Ragan said Taubenberger was the first candidate to visit there in 20 years.

"Hopefully the next mayor will listen to him," Ragan said. "Nutter will be the kind of guy to do that."

"I think he did a wonderful job on the campaign," Mary Pease said at the firehouse at Rhawn Street and Verree Road, where Taubenberger's wife, Joanne, was handing out literature with their hungry 8-year-old son, William.

"I was impressed with how you ran it," Pease said.

Joanne Taubenberger shivered in the cold. "I should have told him to bring me a Dunkin' Donuts coffee," she said.

Then she addressed the campaign. "He's going strong. He's definitely enthusiastic. I don't know how he does it," she said.

 


Contact staff writer Joseph A. Gambardello at 215-854-2153 or jgambardello@phillynews.com.