Last Phila. Council race too close to call

Al Taubenberger
Al Taubenberger (right) greets supporters in Northeast Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

The race among three Republicans for two at-large seats on Philadelphia City Council remained officially too close to call Wednesday, but two of the contenders expressed confidence that they would triumph.

"We just finished an election and I won," Al Taubenberger said in a voice mail greeting.

"I'm very, very optimistic," Taubenberger said in an interview.

"It's pretty much a done deal," said Councilman David Oh, also in an interview. Oh received the most votes of any Republican.

Councilman Dennis M. O'Brien, who was running third and in danger of losing his seat, could not be reached for comment.

With nearly 99 percent of the ballots counted, Oh had 34,297 votes, Taubenberger had 34,138, and O'Brien had 33,710.

City Commissioner Stephanie Singer said Wednesday afternoon that the race was too close to call and would remain so at least until the 1,870 absentee and provisional ballots were counted. She said that could take about a week.

After that, declaring winners could be put off even longer if any of the candidates challenges the validity of any of those ballots, she said.

At stake are the two seats that by law are reserved for minority parties. Since Tuesday's top vote-getters for those seats - Taubenberger, Oh, and O'Brien - are all Republicans, the outcome won't change the new Council's makeup of 14 Democrats and three Republicans.

Oh said that the counting is expected to start Friday morning and that the results should be certified next week.

The incumbent said the only way the current standings would dramatically shift is if there had been a concerted absentee-ballot effort for one of the candidates.

If there was, Oh said, "it would not have been for O'Brien. He doesn't have the operation. He didn't do that." Oh said the same applied to him. Oh said he had not heard anything about O'Brien conceding the race.

On his voice mail greeting, Taubenberger, a former GOP mayoral candidate and longtime leader of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, thanked all who voted for him.

"I look forward to serving all the citizens of Philadelphia in the very near future," he said.

bmoran@phillynews.com

215-854-5983@RobertMoran215