MAYORAL candidate

Bob Brady

wants you to get this straight: He is not afraid of elevators.

Does he hate elevators? Yes. But if he were afraid of them (clautophobia), he wouldn't use them.

"I went up the City Hall tower to get Ricky [Mariano]" Brady reminded us. "That elevator is barely big enough for two people."

Mariano, then a City Councilman under indictment, had gone to the top of City Hall for some reflection, though others feared suicide. Brady went up to talk him down.

Brady also uses the elevator at Democratic city committee headquarters to get to his party chairman's office.

But, all things considered, he'd rather walk.

"I got stuck in one one time in New York many years ago," Brady recalled. "We were in there for a couple hours. People were panicking. I'd calm them down. Then I was panicking. They calmed me down."

Screenwriters take note. This sounds like a made-for-TV movie.

Brady's recollection is that he and his fellow passengers were stuck around the 44th floor during a power outage.

Then, he said, after getting elected to Congress, he was stuck on an elevator in the Capitol.

"We were called for a floor vote and everybody got on at once," Brady said. "The limit was something like 1,400 pounds and we weighed more like 4,000."

Airplanes are a different matter. While he will ride elevators, he will not ride aircraft.

"I don't fly no more," Brady said. "I'm not afraid of flying, I'm afraid of crashing."

Rail travel is far more environmentally sound, anyway.

Ramos vs. Ramos

Although it was overshadowed by Brady's announcement for mayor yesterday, City Councilman Juan Ramos announced his bid for a second term.

Ramos, who runs citywide as an at-large member, has carved out a niche for himself as the friend of labor and the working class.

When he won four years ago, even though there are five at-large Democrats, it was widely perceived that he'd taken the seat held by Angel Ortiz, who was the only Latino member.

Now Ramos faces a challenge of his own from the Hispanic community, former state Rep. Ben Ramos.

One veteran Hispanic pol told us that Ramos is simply trying to leverage a government job.

"He knows it will be confusing to voters because he has the same last name," our source said. "He is trying to hold Juan hostage."

Juan Ramos said Ben Ramos, in fact, has asked for his help in getting a job.

"He came to visit me the week before last and did indicate he'd like to get back into government," Juan Ramos said. "He'd been hoping to get something through his longstanding relationship with Gov. Rendell, but hadn't been able to secure anything. I'm trying to give him a hand with that."

Ben Ramos admits he discussed a job with the councilman.

"We did talk and I thought there was a window of opportunity for us to have an understanding," he said. "I have a commitment to the betterment of this city and told him if there was an opportunity for us to work on some things where we don't have to bump heads, I would consider it."

That window is now closed, Ben Ramos said. Let the head-bumping begin.

"I will be announcing on Feb. 6," he said. "I've been pounding the streets, making phone calls, raising money and getting support."

The only thing that could make this more fun would be if Ortiz got into the race, but, alas, he says it won't happen.

"My daughter's wedding is in July in Puerto Rico and I am planning the entire thing," Ortiz said. "I'd have no time to campaign."

Ortiz's daughter is actress Ana Ortiz, who has a featured role on the hit TV series "Ugly Betty," leaving her no time to plan her wedding to musician Noah Lebenzon, which is why dad's doing it.

This doesn't mean Ortiz will disappear. If Brady or rival U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah win election as mayor, there will be an open seat in Congress.

"Congress has always been my goal," Ortiz told us.

Maryland guv is a rocker

A photo below shows former state House Speaker Bob O'Donnell and wife Donna Gentile O'Donnell dancing to the music of "Big Bad Voodoo Daddy" last week at the inauguration of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The O'Donnells used to hang with O'Malley when he sneaked away from his duties as Baltimore mayor to play in an Irish rock band at Brittingham's, on Bethlehem Pike, in Lafayette Hill.

That's one ugly job

State Sen. Jim Rhoades, R-Schuylkill County, this week raised the bar for spouting political bull. During a Senate hearing into the controversial hiring of former state Sen. Joe Conti to a new CEO post with the state Liquor Control Board, Rhoades said that since the senators knew nothing about the hire, they look like a bunch of "heevahavas."

Now it's possible Rhoades meant they look like dolts, which is one meaning of the Pennsylvania Dutch word. But the Urban Dictionary's preferred definition is, "The farmhand given the job of holding the bull's penis during the collection of semen." *

Staff writers Gar Joseph, Catherine Lucey and John M. Baer contributed to this report.