JUST IMAGINE what a week it'll be for T. Milton Street, the mayor's big brother, hot-dog vendor extraordinaire and federal criminal defendant.

On Monday, May 14, he's slated to stand trial on fraud and tax charges.

The next day, he could be nominated for mayor.

May 15 is primary election day, and if Milton wins the Democratic nomination, he'd be a shoo-in to succeed his brother, Mayor John Street.

"I'm in! I'm in!" Milton Street, 67, proclaimed yesterday after picking up nominating petitions in City Hall. He needs a thousand valid signatures by March 6.

"I'm getting in the mayor's race," he said. "I'm getting in to deal with this gun issue, these illegal guns. . . . It's my time now. I'm back. I'm back on the scene."

He promised to file his petitions on Wednesday and then begin stirring up the race, which now includes five Democrats and a lone Republican.

He wasted little time. First he wondered why state Rep. Dwight Evans didn't run for House speaker.

"What kind of deal did Evans make? You don't give up the speaker of the House to be the mayor of Philadelphia," Street said.

Street called another mayoral rival, former Councilman Michael Nutter, "The Watermelon Man," after the 1970 movie starring Godfrey Cambridge as a white man who suddenly became black.

In Street's view, Nutter is "white-oriented" in his policy ideas such as a "stop and frisk" policy that he asserted would violate the rights of minorities.

Evans chuckled upon hearing of Street's candidacy and comments, and noted the scores of gun-control hearings he's scheduled across the state.

Nutter had a similar reaction.

"It's a little hard to take Milton Street seriously, but I guess he missed the fact that 73 percent of the people killed last year were black men and I'd like to protect them," he said.

The biggest hurdle to a Street candidacy might be meeting the city charter requirement that he be a city resident for the three years preceding the election.

Last April, he got tossed from the primary ballot as a state House candidate because a Commonwealth Court judge concluded he was neither a city nor a Pennsylvania resident.

According to his federal indictment, he lives in Moorestown, N.J. Street said he just spends time there with a "lady friend" and doesn't own the home.

"I live wherever I sleep," Street said. "I am domiciled in Philadelphia. . . . I have always been domiciled in Philadelphia."

Asked where he sleeps, Street said, "Wherever I am when I get tired. I lay down and sleep."

The Milton Street candidacy had the extended Street political family scrambling for the most carefully parsed responses to the news.

Joseph Grace, Mayor Street's spokesman, said the mayor has not talked with his brother about his intention to run for mayor.

"Candidates are still in the process of gathering signatures on nominating petitions, filing those petitions and then withstanding any potential challenges," Grace said.

But Shawn Fordham, Milton Street's nephew by marriage and a former top adviser to the mayor, said in an e-mail: "The Street name on any ballot should be taken seriously by anyone running for that office."

Sharif Street, the mayor's son, a lawyer who last week announced as a City Council at-large candidate, wasn't talking about any surge in support for him owing to his uncle's announcement.

Through a spokeswoman, he said he foresees no real political impact, adding, "I believe the citizens won't let this distraction affect my campaign."

Milton Street insists he's innocent of the federal charges that he failed to pay federal income tax on more than $2 million in consulting income and attempted to defraud a potential airport contractor.

"I haven't done anything wrong," he said. "I haven't been convicted of anything. What do you want me to do, run around and act like I did something wrong?" *