WE CALL IT the Daily News hot seat - a table at the Famous 4th Street Deli where Clout asks the city's politicians three questions each Election Day.
The questions for yesterday's general-election crowd were:
* Who will be the next mayor of Philadelphia?
* Who will be the Democratic nominee to challenge U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in 2016?
* And will U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah be seeking a 12th term in the U.S. House in two years or fighting a federal indictment?
Yes, we save the zinger for our final question.
Here's how Mayor Nutter responded to our third question:
"That may go on the Top 5 list of all-time f---ed-up questions."
Is there a trophy for that?
Fattah's longtime friend and political consultant, Greg Naylor, pleaded guilty in August to hiding the receipt and repayment of an illegal $1 million loan in the 2007 mayor's race. Naylor's plea memo didn't name Fattah but it was clear he is the "Elected Official A" named in that document.
On the mayor's race, Nutter said he expects the field to firm up in the next month or so but can't say who the winner will be.
He also had no idea who will face Toomey in 2016.
As for Fattah, Nutter saw no reason to stop him for running for another term in two years.
City Council President Darrell Clarke, a potential candidate for mayor, used the old dodge yesterday of saying he had to focus on the race for governor when asked about 2015. That dodge expires today, he laughingly acknowledged.
Clarke said Toomey was expected to be an "easy target" as an ultraconservative but has turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
"I don't want to jinx him by saying he's been somewhat of a moderate Republican, but he has been very receptive to some of the concerns that we've raised in the city of Philadelphia," Clarke said.
On Fattah, Clarke said he has no idea what comes next.
District Attorney Seth Williams is betting on state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams as the city's next mayor.
For Toomey, D.A. Williams sees former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak or Montgomery County Commission Chairman Josh Shapiro as likely opponents. There was one person Williams ruled out.
"It will not be Kathleen Kane," said Williams, who has clashed with the state attorney general.
As for Fattah, Williams said, "He has a significant legal battle on his hands, currently."
State Sen. Mike Stack III, who became lieutenant governor-elect yesterday, also predicts Anthony Hardy Williams for mayor.
He sees Sestak, Shapiro or former District Attorney Lynne Abraham as a potential 2016 challenge for Toomey.
And he bets on Fattah running for a new term in two years.
Abraham, a likely candidate for mayor, guessed herself as the city's next chief executive.
She sees Sestak as Toomey's top challenger in 2016.
As for Fattah, she wants to see "how the federal process" goes.
"I've never liked to dance on anyone's . . . uh . . . problems," Abraham said.
Anthony Hardy Williams ducked questions about when he will announce his very-much-anticipated run for mayor.
He expects Sestak, who lost to Toomey in 2010, to run again but to face other serious Democrats in the primary.
And he said he hopes to support Fattah for another term in Congress in two years.
City Controller Alan Butkovitz said he or Clarke will be the city's next mayor, declaring that "everything will be clear in a matter of weeks" about the field.
Butkovitz predicted that former state Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty, who finished last in the four-way May 20 Democratic primary for governor, will be Toomey's challenger in 2016.
As for Fattah, Butkovitz said, "I don't think he'll be running for reelection" in two years.
On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN